CINCINNATI — The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has announced plans to hire 14 additional employees for the purpose of enforcing sports betting regulations. The commission aims to publish rules for the new industry by early next month. However, concerns have been raised as job listings on the commission’s website currently indicate only six available positions, with none of the descriptions explicitly mentioning the regulation of sports betting.
The WCPO 9 I-Team has been closely monitoring the staffing plans of the KHRC since its analysis in May revealed that Kentucky has 38 times fewer gambling enforcement personnel compared to Indiana, and 30 times fewer compared to Ohio. Increasing the enforcement team from four to 18 would bring Kentucky more in line with neighboring states to the north.
Out of the six job postings on the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet website for the KHRC, three are specifically tied to horse racing, including two positions for veterinarians and one for a racing license administrator. Another job posting, related to planning and research, calls for candidates to review and evaluate existing programs and recommend improvements to agency management. Two auditor positions are available, with one focusing on planning and conducting investigations, while the other would be responsible for conducting comprehensive audits of financial and statistical records, reports, statements, and accounting policies and procedures.
Despite requests for comment and an interview with Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz going unanswered, Rabinowitz did mention during a June 20 KHRC meeting that the staff is growing with the addition of 14 new positions in sports wagering. He stated that these positions would include leadership roles, as well as investigative, analytical, and administrative positions. Rabinowitz expressed satisfaction with the hiring process and mentioned that additional staffing announcements would be made soon.
Rabinowitz also stated that initial drafts of sports betting regulations had been shared with licensed associations and industry stakeholders ahead of their public release, which is expected to occur within the next few weeks. He further announced that the KHRC would hold a special meeting in early July to review and approve the regulations.
However, Michael Barley, the chief public affairs officer for Pace-O-Matic Inc., is not impressed with Kentucky’s approach to sports betting. The Georgia-based company is currently suing the state over legislation that categorizes its video games as illegal gambling devices.
Barley remarked, “This is more of the same. Kentucky is lagging behind when it comes to regulatory matters, and that’s not a coincidence. It’s because Churchill Downs and the horse racing industry control it.”
Barley urged state lawmakers to closely examine the staffing levels when the joint committee on appropriations and spending reviews the KHRC’s regulatory plans on July 19. He emphasized that if Kentucky intends to implement sports betting in a meaningful way, more than 14 people will be required, and the regulatory system needs to be more robust than currently planned.
In addition to discussing staffing plans and the schedule for releasing sports betting rules, Rabinowitz detailed the preparations being made by the KHRC for the new industry. He mentioned that over the past two months, KHRC staff, commissioners, and members of the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet have been engaging with regulators from other states, industry experts, service providers, and licensed associations. The objective has been to draft clear and concise administrative regulations to govern sports betting in Kentucky. Meetings with regulators from Massachusetts, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, and Colorado have provided valuable insights into best practices. Rabinowitz also mentioned discussions with service providers and visits to multiple sportsbook sites to observe the extensive technologies employed to protect the integrity of wagering. Stakeholders have been consulted regarding problem gambling programs in Ohio, which will inform the development of a similar program in Kentucky under the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Legal counsel has also been engaged with sports associations such as Major League Baseball to stay informed about emerging legal issues in wagering. The KHRC has additionally contracted with Gaming Labs International to provide consulting services and training for their staff.