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Kentucky Casinos & Gambling

Kentucky Regulated Gambling:

Pari-Mutuel Betting 1792

Lotteries 1989

Charity Gaming 1992

Gambling Age in Kentucky:

Lotteries/Charity Gaming/Pari-Mutuel Betting 18+

Kentucky Casinos:

Land-based Casinos 0

Kentucky

kentucky, map, usa

Kentucky gambling laws remain far more conservative than Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana on the northern border. Arguably, this is not from a lack of trying to amend the state’s Constitution. In 2021 alone, we saw Bills introduced attempting to relax the laws to legalize sports betting and online gambling, fantasy sports contests, expand casino gambling, and authorized online poker.

These have not resulted in any concrete changes so far, although moves continue to be made. It would not be a huge surprise to see online poker, casino games and sports betting becoming legal in Kentucky before much longer – although it may come down to a great deal of negotiating between lawmakers and other interested parties.

Presently, legal gambling in Kentucky is limited to pari-mutuel wagering, charitable gaming, and a state lottery. This means no Vegas-style land-based casinos to play slots and table games. There are no online casino games, either. In part, this explains why some players from Kentucky have turned to online gambling at offshore casinos.

A number of offshore online casinos accept players from The Bluegrass State. If you’re considering joining an offshore online casino to enjoy online casino games, we suggest you view our recommended list put together by our experts before you gamble online.

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Kentucky Online Gambling & Sportsbooks in 2022

As of 2022, legal online sports betting and legal online casinos are not yet available in Kentucky. A bill was nearly passed earlier in 2022 but fell short, as such it seems an inevitability that online sportsbooks will become available in the future.

In September of 2022, Gov. Andy Beshear voiced 100% support for online sportsbooks once again, suggesting that just a few legislators were slowing the process of legalisation.

Best New Casinos in Kentucky

to play, card game, poker

Unfortunately for Kentucky players, there are no land-based casinos in the state, leaving them scrambling for the best new casinos in Kentucky online. This is their best chance of finding casino games and online poker in the current day.

Fortunately, there are USD & BTC online casinos accepting Kentuckians, including our favorites below. These online casinos (available on instant play browsers and downloadable apps) are optimized for mobile/tablet (Android & iOS) and desktop PCs.

Additionally, players from Kentucky can find a fabulous selection of online slots, video poker, blackjack, roulette, specialty games, et cetera from leading developers like Realtime Gaming, Bovada, WGS Technology, et cetera. Some online casinos even offer live dealer games from providers like Visionary iGaming, et cetera.

finance, currency, bitcoin

Bitcoin and US dollar deposits and withdrawals are easy using your Bitcoin wallet or, in the case of US$, a credit card like Visa, Mastercard, et cetera. These online casino account payment methods are safe, secure, and fast.

Our top online casinos also have fantastic bonuses (match deposit, free spins, signup no deposit, cashback, et cetera), fast cashout times, and 24/7 customer support.

We’ve provided a complimentary online casino review for gambling in Kentucky, summarizing the most important details to consider before signing up.

Best Bonuses in Kentucky Casinos

roulette, roulette table, chips

The best bonuses in Kentucky online casinos are just a few clicks away, with our great selection below. Some Kentucky online casinos offer a signup no deposit bonus, but all offer a welcome package to players on their first Bitcoin or USD deposit. Collect bonus money and free spins on the hottest games anywhere.

Our experts have gone through the casino games bonus T&Cs and bonus wagering requirements to ensure they are fair. Find out more, including what our experts thought in our casino review for each.

Kentucky Gambling Overview

roulette, roulette table, chips

Kentucky has seen a long history of gambling – including illegal. Although casino gambling was banned around the time of the great depression, gamblers could readily find ‘gambling dens.’ This was driven by the close vicinity of Northern Kentucky (mainly Newport) to Ohio, where organized crime had wrapped its tentacles.

During this time, some well-known establishments, including the Yorkshire Club, the Lookout House, and the Flamingo, sprung up.

Racetracks like Kentucky Downs, Woodlawn and Oakland date back to 1875. Still, it wasn’t until the 1920s that pari-mutuel wagering really found its legs.

20th century gambling in Kentucky

horses, horse, tradition

It’s fair to say that Kentucky is among the least friendly gambling states in America. It permits pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing & harness racing, charity gaming, and a state lottery only.

This means no tribal casinos or commercial casinos. The Constitution prohibits slot machines, sports betting, fantasy sports, and Kentucky online gambling.

In January 2021, House Bill 241 proposed to allow pro and college sports betting (at Kentucky tracks and online), fantasy sports, and online poker. It was sponsored by Republican representative Adam Koenig and failed to pass a committee vote later in 2021. This does not mean the end for Kentucky online casinos, but it does mean a better bill will need to be written.

Lotteries

games, chance, lotto

The first ticket was sold in 1989 by the Kentucky Lottery. This entity sells in-house draw games like Pick 3, Pick 4, Cash Ball 225, and 5 Card Cash. There are also scratch-offs and instant play games. People from Kentucky can also participate in multi-jurisdictional games like Lucky for Life, Mega Millions, and Powerball.

In the current absence of Kentucky online gambling, the state lottery is the closest thing available. This may seem odd – the law prohibits games of chance, even though games on your online casino account can genuinely be tests of skill. Meanwhile a state lottery, which is entirely dependent on the luck of the draw, is considered to be acceptable.

Fair or not, with no Kentucky online casinos, the lottery is the best bet right now if you’re not playing at offshore casinos. Tickets can be bought at hundreds of participating retailers like restaurants, convenience stores, and bars.

Charitable Gambling

lottery tickets, coloured, unsorted

Charitable gambling is regulated by The Department of Charitable Gaming (DCG). It covers raffles, bingo, and alternative games of chance for charity purposes. An organization must have been in continuous existence for at least one year to qualify. An ‘exempt license’ is possible when gross revenue does not exceed $25,000.

A charitable gambling license is not required under the following conditions:

  • Raffles are not held more than 3 times per annum.
  • Ticket sales are no more than $150.
  • All proceeds are donated to a non-profit organization.

A charity with receipts expecting to exceed $25,000 per annum is required to obtain a regular license. This is also true for charity ‘casino nights’ with versions of casino games, or the sale of pull tabs.

Pari-Mutuel Racing

horses, races, saddle

Kentucky has a colorful history when it comes to horse racing. The Kentucky Derby has the honor of being the longest-running sporting event in the US (1875). Racing history in Kentucky dates back to 1783. It is, legitimately, one of the biggest events in the sports betting calendar worldwide. Even if there is not online gambling in Kentucky, the Derby is a major focus of online gambling elsewhere.

Kentucky allows on-track and off-track pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, harness racing, and interstate racing. Pari-mutuels and horse racing are regulated by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

At present, 7 racetracks offer live and simulcast racing. This includes the famous Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby. Advanced deposit wagering is available at operators like TwinSpires, TVG, and XpressBet. Kentucky participants can also wager on historical horse racing events at 6 of the 7 live tracks.

Kentucky Gambling History

books, library, reading

In 1989, a constitutional amendment was approved that would allow a state lottery. Three years later (1992), Kentucky introduced Legislation (HB5), establishing a regulatory body for charitable gaming.

Fast forward to February 2008, ‘The Kentucky Casino Amendment’ to the Constitution that would have allowed 12 casinos in the state failed to pass. Gov. Beshear had predicted that it would generate $828.7 million in license fees alone. Later in September of that same year (2008), 141 illegal Internet gambling sites in Kentucky were transferred to the state.

In 2010 video slot machines (historical)  at Kentucky tracks were authorized by The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (HRC). In September 2020, The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that horse racing slot-like machines based on historical events betting was illegal.

This was despite the approval of over 3,000 devices across Kentucky. In January 2021, the House of Representatives of Kentucky passed Senate Bill 120 legalizing historical horse racing machines. Gov. Andy Beshear signed it into law.

Legislative attempts

gavel, auction, hammer

House Bill 137 allowing sports betting at racetracks was introduced by Rep. Adam Koenig in January 2020. It failed to garner consideration on the House Floor.

In December 2020, the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld a Franklin Circuit Court’s 2015 ruling that PokerStars pay damages of $1.3 billion. This included $870 million in penalties for resident losses between 2006 and 2011. Additionally, PokerStars was ordered to pay $290 million in treble damages. PokerStars was found to have conducted illegal gambling activities in the state.

Kentucky Gambling FAQ

What types of gambling are legal in Kentucky?

Kentucky is a conservative gambling state, and most forms of gambling in Kentucky are prohibited. The exceptions include a state lottery, charity games, and pari-mutuel wagering. Sports betting and casino gambling do not make the cut, and neither can you play online poker in the state.

Does Kentucky have a state lottery?

The Kentucky Lottery operates in the state selling in-house draws, scratch tickets, and instant play. It also offers multistate lottery tickets, including Mega Millions and Powerball. In the absence of sports betting and casino gambling in Kentucky, the Kentucky Lottery is one of few methods of gambling that is permitted.

Is fantasy sports betting legal in Kentucky?

At present, fantasy sports are illegal in Kentucky. Legalizing it was one of the points of House Bill 241, voted down in 2021. Most states do not see fantasy sports as a form of online gambling, but it is considered to inhabit a gray area. In Kentucky, that area falls under the heading of “illegal” for now.

Is sports betting legal in Kentucky?

House Bill 241 to legalize sports betting was put to the vote in 2021. However, it was not successful and for now there is no legal sports betting in Kentucky. Nonetheless, the vote was not a landslide, and more careful wording may allow sports betting and other forms of gambling in Kentucky in the future.

Can I find commercial casinos or tribal casinos in Kentucky?

There are no land-based casinos in Kentucky, and there is presently no legislation on the table to change this. Unlike with legal online gambling, there is not even much of a grassroots mve afoot to permit brick and mortar casinos.

Can I play poker online in Kentucky?

Online poker in Kentucky is illegal, House Bill 241 proposing to legalize it was put to the vote in 2021 and narowly defeated. Kentucky residents will need to wait for online casino play. We are unlikely to see dedicated online gambling in Kentucky before 2023 at the earliest.

What is the legal gambling age in Kentucky?

The legal gambling age in Kentucky is 18 and older. It remains to be seen if this would be the case for online gambling, as some states implement a system where different forms of betting have different age limits.

It would be normal if, for example, the Kentucky lottery was permitted for Kentucky residents of 18 and over, but horse race betting or other forms of online gambling in Kentucky were restricted to those over the age of 21. That may be a necessary concession in order to pass a bill permitting online gambling in Kentucky.

Conclusion

If you’ve read our article, you now know Kentucky is not exactly the land of gambling opportunities for horse race betting or any other form of legal online gambling. Indeed, it is trailing behind neighboring states regarding options such as fantasy sports contests and land-based casinos.

Obviously, this represents a loss of potential state tax revenue, which makes no sense to us especially in the home of Kentucky Downs. However, we are optimistic that the future remains bright, although the timeframe for players to legally enjoy online gambling beyond the Kentucky lottery is murky at best.

In the meantime, the availability of offshore online casinos offers a safe and trustworthy online gambling alternative for impatient players. These include the online casinos recommended above.

We also invite you to scroll our Kentucky gambling page periodically as we continue to update it with developments on online casino gambling and other forms of betting.

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