Kentucky Hiring 14 More Employees As Sports Betting Looms

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Written By Giovanni Shorter | Last Updated
Kentucky Sports Betting

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) is planning on expanding its personnel as they prepare for Kentucky sports betting. Lawmakers are looking to bring in 14 new employees who will focus on sports betting enforcement and publishing the regulations. This will hopefully aid in keeping Kentucky to its football season launch target.

Kentucky Working Towards Sportsbook Launch

Kentucky sportsbooks must go live by December 2023, according to sports betting bill HB 551. Lawmakers are aiming for an earlier launch, however. The commission is currently working on early drafts of regulations that will determine the state of the market.

The new employees will work to ensure that the regulatory process runs smoothly. Commission members will need to curate the rules, release them to the public for public comment, and then place the rules to a final vote.

“Earlier this month, we announced the KHRC staff is growing with 14 new positions in sports wagering,” said Jonathan Rabinowitz, commission Chairman. “These positions include leadership roles as well as investigative, analytical and administrative positions. We are pleased to update that we have some good candidates in the hiring process and hope to make some additional staffing announcements soon.”

Early drafts of the regulations have been shared with “licensed associations and industry stakeholders” ahead of public release. A meeting in early July is set for KHRC to review and vote on said rules.

How Realistic Is The Football Season Timeline

Kentucky is powering through with the football season launch target. But is it enough? When we interviewed Sen Damon Thayer, chief sponsor of the sports betting legislation in Kentucky, he assured us that optimism was still there.

“I got an update last week from the chairman of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission,” said Thayer. “And he still feels pretty optimistic that football season is a real possibility.”

Some don’t view this timeline as being realistic, however. Even the new hiring strategy doesn’t seem to sway Michael Barley, chief public affairs officer for Pace-O-Matic Inc. Barley is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Kentucky over the state defining his products as “illegal gambling” devices.

“This is more of the same,” said Barley. “Kentucky’s way behind the curve when it comes to the regulatory side and that’s not a coincidence. That’s because Churchill Downs and the horse racing industry controls it. If they’re going to do it in a real way, they’re going to need more than 14 people. And it needs to be a more robust regulatory system than they’re planning.”

The critique from Barley is that the commission is not doing enough, believing that the focus should be more on staffing levels and on a more robust regulatory system.