CINCINNATI — In an effort to regulate sports betting effectively, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) has announced plans to hire 14 new employees for sports betting enforcement and release the necessary rules for the industry by early next month. However, concerns have been raised as job postings on the KHRC website indicate that only six positions are currently available, with no specific mention of sports betting regulation in the job descriptions.
The WCPO 9 I-Team has been closely monitoring the staffing plans of the KHRC, revealing in May that Kentucky has significantly fewer gambling enforcement staff compared to neighboring states such as Indiana and Ohio, with a ratio of 38 to 1 and 30 to 1, respectively. Increasing the enforcement team from four to 18 would bring Kentucky more in line with its northern neighbors.
Out of the six jobs posted on the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet website for the KHRC, three are specifically related to horse racing, including two positions for veterinarians and one for a racing license administrator. One job posting for planning and research tasks candidates with reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating current programs and suggesting improvements. Additionally, two auditor positions are available, with one responsible for conducting investigations and the other tasked with performing comprehensive audits of financial and statistical records, reports, statements, and accounting policies and procedures.
Despite inquiries about staffing, the KHRC did not provide any responses or grant an interview with Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz. During a June 20 KHRC meeting, Rabinowitz acknowledged the growth of the KHRC staff, mentioning the 14 new positions for sports wagering that encompass leadership roles, investigative, analytical, and administrative positions. He expressed satisfaction with the progress of the hiring process and anticipated further staffing announcements in the near future.
Rabinowitz also mentioned that preliminary drafts of sports betting regulations had been shared with “licensed associations and industry stakeholders” before their planned public release in the coming weeks. He announced that a special meeting would be held in early July to review and approve these regulations.
However, Michael Barley, the chief public affairs officer for Pace-O-Matic Inc., expressed disappointment with Kentucky’s approach to sports betting. The Georgia-based company is currently suing the state over legislation that deems its video games illegal gambling devices. Barley emphasized that state lawmakers should carefully evaluate staffing levels when the joint committee on appropriations and spending reviews the KHRC’s regulatory plans on July 19.
“If they truly want to regulate sports betting effectively, they will need more than 14 people,” Barley remarked. “The regulatory system needs to be robust and comprehensive, exceeding their current plans.”
In addition to discussing staffing plans and the schedule for releasing sports betting rules, Rabinowitz outlined KHRC’s preparations for the new industry. He highlighted 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 to develop clear and concise administrative regulations for sports wagering in Kentucky. Meetings with regulators from Massachusetts, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, and Colorado have provided valuable insights into best practices, drawing on their real-world experiences in implementing sports betting.
Rabinowitz also mentioned discussions with service providers and visits to multiple sportsbook sites to understand the advanced technologies employed to ensure the integrity of wagering. Stakeholder consultations were held regarding problem gambling programs in Ohio, which have informed the program currently being developed in Kentucky at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Furthermore, KHRC’s legal counsel has engaged with legal representatives from sports associations like Major League Baseball to stay abreast of emerging legal issues in the realm of wagering. The commission has also enlisted the services of Gaming Labs International to provide consulting and training for its staff.