The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission plans to hire 14 new employees for sports betting enforcement and publish rules for the new industry by early next month. But job links posted on its website indicate only six positions are currently available and none of the job descriptions specify that those hired will regulate sports betting.
The WCPO 9 I-Team has been tracking KHRC’s staffing plans because our analysis in May showed Kentucky has 38 times fewer gambling enforcement staff than Indiana and 30 times fewer than Ohio. Boosting its enforcement team from four to 18 would bring Kentucky more in line with its neighbors to the north.
Three of the six jobs posted for KHRC on the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet website are specifically tied to horse racing – two veterinarians and a racing license administer. A planning and research job posting calls for candidates to “review, analyze and evaluate current programs for their effectiveness” and recommend “improvements to agency management.” Two auditor positions call for one employee to perform “beginning level duties in planning and conducting investigations,” while another would “conduct full scope audits in the analysis of financial and statistical records, reports, statements, and accounting policies and procedures.”
KHRC did not respond to questions about its staffing and a request to interview Chairman Jonathan Rabinowitz.
“Earlier this month, we announced the KHRC staff is growing with 14 new positions in sports wagering,” Rabinowitz said at a June 20 KHRC meeting. “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.”
Rabinowitz also said initial drafts of sports betting regulations were shared with “licensed associations and industry stakeholders” in advance of their public release “in the next few weeks.” He said KHRC will hold a special meeting in early July to “review and approve” the regulations.
Kentucky’s approach to sports betting does not impress Michael Barley, chief public affairs officer for Pace-O-Matic Inc. The Georgia-based company is suing the state over legislation that defined its video games as illegal gambling devices.
“This is more of the same,” Barley said. “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.”
Barley said state lawmakers should take a close look at staffing levels when a joint committee on appropriations and spending reviews KHRC’s regulatory plans on July 19.
“If they’re going to do it in a real way, they’re going to need more than 14 people,” Barley said. “And it needs to be a more robust regulatory system than they’re planning.”