Meet the Kentucky Sports Betting Advisory Committee

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Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Tuesday who the seven members of the Kentucky Sports Wagering Advisory Council (SWAC) would be. Here is a look at who he appointed:

  • PPC Secretary Ray Perry
  • KHRC Deputy Executive Director Waqas Ahmed
  • KHRC Commissioner William May
  • KHRC Commissioner Dr. Tiffany Daniels
  • KHRC Commissioner James Edwin Worley
  • Jonathan Blue
  • Joyce Merritt

The group covers a wide range of experience and expertise but none come from the world of regulated sports betting nor does anyone have experience with casinos, just historical horse racing and parimutuel wagering.

That is not uncommon for boards like these. Tennessee created a similar SWAC when it launched sports betting that consisted primarily of community leaders and attorneys. However, that grou pdid include a member of the exectuive team of the Memphis Grizzlies, Kandace Stewart.

The closest this council has to sports experience is at-large appointee Jonathan Blue, whose Blue Equity has dabbled in the sports space.

Of course, save for Racing Lousiville FC, which is part of the NWSL, the state does not have a major sports team in the state.

That being said, the bulk of the appointess come with extensive legal experience and some are internal members of KHRC. The question remains how much institutional sports betting knowledge is within the Sports Wagering Advisory Council.

Here is a look at the seven appointees:

Ray A Perry

Appointed by Gov. Beshear in August 2021, Perry has served as the PPC Secretary for two years, succeeding Kerry Harvey. An attorney by trade, Perry worked as a US Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky focused on financial fraud cases, so much so, that he co-chaired the US Attorney’s Health Care Fraud Working Group.

This is not the only committee Beshear has appointed Perry to during his tenure. He also serves as co-chair of the Team Kentucky Medical Cannabris Advisory Committee.

Waqas Ahmed

During his five years with the KHRC, Ahmed has quickly ascended the organization’s ranks. Intially joining as an analyst in 2019, he moved up to the Director of Parimutuel Wagering and Compliance just one year later. In February of this year, he stepped up to the deputy director role after his predecessor, Jamie Eads, was named director of KHRC.

He already serves on the KHRC Wagering Integrity Committee and is part of the Association of Racing Commissioners International as well.

William May

Appointed to the KHRC in 2022 by Beshear, May is part of the Hurt, Deckard, and May law firm in the state. The firm describes itself as experienced in :resolving government relation issues” as well as contracts and leases and providing legal services for government agencies.

Dr. Tiffany Daniels

Appointed to the KHRC in 2022 by Beshear, Daniels might be better known around Kentucky as being part of a group of all-Black women horse race owners. One of their stable, Seven Scents, scored a big victory during the 2022 Kentucky Oaks.

Daniels is a chiropractor by tradr and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is also an extremely active community member, serving on boards and councils covering everything from United Way to the Lyric Theater in Lexington to the Bluegrass Community Foundation.

Her husband, Raymond Daniels, owns Living the Dream Stables.

James Edwin Worley

A former Democratic state senator that served from 1999-2011, Worley has spent most of his life in Eastern Kentucky. He served as the minority whip from 2003-2011. Now he has a general contracting company, WG&T Builders. He joined the KHRC in May of 2020 after being appointed by Beshear.

In 2009, the Legislative Ethics Committee admonished Worley, who was serving in the senate at the time, but did dismissed a complaint that the sitting senator was using his power and influence for financial gain. Worley’s contracting company had built an annex for a courthouse in Madison County, which seemed to run afoul of a sitting lawmaker leasing directly to the state. However, ultimately it was determined that Worley was leasing to the county who was in turn leasing to the state, rendering the deal acceptable.

Jonathan Blue

Blue is one of two at-large appointees to the SWAC. He is the founder, chairman, and managing director of Blue Equity. While the company initially began as the Louisville Scrap Metal Company, it has diversified over the years to include a wide-range of companies in its portfolio. The current list of companies ranges from hard seltzer to a site to invest in fine wine and spirits but does not appear to have any gaming-related ventures under its purview.

Blue’s background covers a similarly wide range including sports, talent management, and equity in addition to the spirits industry, but again, seems to not verge over into the space of regulated gambling.

Joyce Merritt

A founding partner at Embry Merrit Shaffar Womack, Merritt is the other at-large appointee to this council. Her areas of expertise are described as healthcare and OSHA-related complaints, and her CV includes a number of major decisions impacting the commonwealth.

Appropriately for the SWAC, Merritt is well versed in regulatory and administrative law and she has served as a hearing officer for anumber of different groups and is also a member of the National Association of Hearing Officials.