Circa among seven Kentucky online sportsbook applicants, Fanatics isn’t

Circa casino
Image: Shutterstock / Kit Leong

Kentucky can have up to 27 online operators, but the first round of applicants to come into the state generated just seven applicants, and some notable names are not on the list announced by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) on Thursday.

The KHRC revealed the seven applicants for online sports betting licenses were:


Fanatics Sportsbook is surprisingly not on this list. Fanatics Betting and Gaming CEO Matt King said the company intended to launch in more than a dozen states in 2023, but it seems like Kentucky will not be on that list, at least not just yet. As the company takes over Pointsets’s licenses in several key markets, including New York, this could just be a situation of prioritizing where to be ready to go come NFL season.

Other mid-level operators like BetRivers, Hard Rock, Tipico, Betfred, and WynnBET are also missing from this list.

For some of those, like BetRivers, the companies have openly spoken about prioritizing states where online casino legalization is on the horizon.

It is also unclear if Penn Interactive will obtain the license and then wait to launch until the ESPN BET product is ready to go or if it will roll out the Barstool Sportsbook brand at launch to serve the state for a couple of months until ESPN BET is ready.

While the KHRC did release the names of the online applicants, it did not denote which retail partners the operators would be working with.

While nine tracks were eligible to apply for retail sports betting licenses, only seven submitted applications on that front as well:

Churchill Downs
Cumberland Run
Ellis Park
Oak Grove
The Red Mile
Sandy’s Gaming and Racing (BetMGM)
Turfway Park

Keeneland in Lexington is part of the deal with The Red Mile and Caesars so it is not surprising that it is not getting involved in retail sports betting. Kentucky Downs, on the other hand, is a bit surprising omission from this list. The track, and its corresponding The Mint Gambling Hall, are located just outside Bowling Green in western Kentucky and is in a prime location near Nashville, TN.

“The KHRC is excited to open sports wagering and is working efficiently to meet the necessary deadlines. This is a careful process dedicated to wagering integrity and protecting bettors in the state of Kentucky,” said KHRC Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz.

The KHRC will meet on Aug. 22 to vote on the applications. The press release also noted that the group is already in the process of evaluating key stakeholders related to the brand.