Who’s Got Their Sports Betting License in Kentucky?

Under the state's sports betting law, permits are required for a wide variety of employees and executives.

Last Updated: Sep 7, 2023 1:16 PM ET Read Time: 2 min
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Legal sports betting has begun in Kentucky, but regulators are still busy behind the scenes licensing the legions of companies and corporate employees and executives that make the industry tick.

The opening of brick-and-mortar sportsbooks signaled the official start of Kentucky sports betting on Thursday in the commonwealth, with Gov. Andy Beshear making the rounds to mark the occasion. 

However, there is still the launch of online sports betting sites to come in the state and a registry maintained by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) shows who has obtained permits for conducting wagering-related duties in the commonwealth. 

License and registration

As of Thursday, that registry includes names such as bet365, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Circa, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel, and Penn Sports Interactive (the operator of Barstool Sportsbook and the future ESPN Bet). Those bookmakers have "service provider" licenses that will put them in the first wave of online sports betting sites to launch in the state later this month.

Kentucky’s system of sports betting flows through the state’s racetracks, which must pay $500,000 for a wagering license initially and then $50,000 annually to renew the permit. The tracks can also partner with up to three service providers to offer sports betting both in-person and online via websites and apps, which must pay $50,000 initially for a license and then $10,000 for a renewal.

Other entities with licenses already include the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks that began taking action on Thursday, such as Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Much to do (still)

But it's not just the sportsbooks that need licenses in Kentucky. Under the state's sports betting law, permits are required for a wide variety of employees and executives, including people who have “the capability to affect the outcome of sports wagering through deployment of code to production for any critical component of a sports wagering system.”

As a result, the state’s licensing registry already includes names such as FanDuel CEO Amy Howe and Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin. The provisions in the state's sports betting law also mean entities like Simplebet, which powers microbetting markets such as the outcome of the next drive in a football game, have occupational licenses as well. Data companies Genius Sports and Sportradar have licenses in hand, as do monitoring services like U.S. Integrity.

Even with the start of retail sports betting on Thursday, regulators will likely stay busy over the next few weeks as the mobile wagering launch approaches. Part of that work will probably include issuing even more licenses.

“The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and the KHRC staff worked tirelessly to meet this challenge,” KHRC Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz said in a press release on Thursday. “The KHRC is dedicated to wagering integrity, and while we are celebrating today’s launch, our work continues.”

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