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KentuckyIn Kentucky, there are limited legal gambling options available. Racinos provide some form of gambling relief but online casinos are still illegal within this state.
Land Based GamblingAllowed in Lottery, Horse Racing Online GamblingProhibited Min Age18 Popular Land Based CasinosEllis Park, Henderson Red Mile, Lexington Pari-MutuelNo Smoking BanNone
Land Based Gambling
Regulated Since: 1988
Gambling Age: 18
Regulated Since: 1783
Gambling Age: 18
Online Sports Betting
OverviewIn Kentucky, there are limited legal gambling options available. Racinos provide some form of gambling relief but online casinos are still illegal within this state.
Gambling within Kentucky is a limited yet interesting experience. This state is known as the home of horse racing within the United States. When it comes to all other forms of gambling the state still has a long way to go.
The Kentucky Derby is one of the most famous horse races in the world. Horse racing was also the first form of gambling activities to be regulated within the state. And it quickly grew into a massive industry drawing in plenty of tourists and success.
The horse racing industry has been a massive boost for the state economy leading many to think there would be more leniency towards other forms of gambling. While a state lottery, instant racing machines and charitable gaming have been legalized the state is not one for progress.
Instead of taking advantage of the massive tourist attraction, the horse racing industry created Kentucky has chosen to stick to what they know. There have been a few attempts to legalize more gambling options over the years with sports betting being the most recent.
Currently, the only forms of gambling that can legally be enjoyed in the state are charitable games, bingo, lottery and horse race betting. Interestingly enough horse race betting is the only form of racing legal with greyhound betting still illegal in the state.
Online gambling is still considered illegal in the state and where others are lenient, Kentucky has been known to take action against operators offering their services illegally within the state.
Sadly this state is less evolved with no land-based casinos available either. There are some racinos offering instant racing machine action and some slot games. This is limited however and you won’t find real casino gaming action in this state. For real casino games, you will need to travel to neighbouring states with land-based casinos.
With the authorities currently working on legalizing sports betting there is hope that more forms of gambling will soon be available. The state has been trying to legalize the bill since 2019 so it could still take some time before the chips fall into place. There are mentions of plans to legalise online poker and daily fantasy sports in the state too.
In other states of the US, you will notice a drastic relaxation of state gaming laws and regulations. With casinos and other gambling activities being legalised one after the other. The laws and regulations in Kentucky can be summed up quite briefly giving the horse racing industry the overall edge. You will find that there are not many legal gambling options available in the state. That being said, there have been attempts to legalise more gambling activities in the last few years.
To this day there are no real casinos in Kentucky and lotteries and charitable games are the only other forms of gambling available in the state.
All forms of gambling activities in the state are monitored and legalised through two code sections in the law. These are Kentucky Revised Statutes 230.010, et seq.: Horse Racing and Showing and Kentucky Revised Statutes 528.010, et seq.: Gambling.
By these statutes, gambling is defined as “Staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest or game based upon an element of chance.”
The first legal form of gambling in Kentucky was horse racing which was legalized in 1875. The first run of the Kentucky Derby was at Churchill Downs in Louisville. In 1891 the state’s fourth Constitution was ratified which placed a ban on all other forms of gambling including lotteries.
Then in 1931, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that horse racing does not violate the constitutional ban on lotteries. It was only in 1978 that the Congress authorized the Interstate Horseracing Act which allowed bettors anywhere in America to place bets on events such as the Kentucky Derby. This law expanded the volume of betting on the Derby and paved the way for an amendment which allowed online horseracing wagers to commence.
In 1988 more than 60% of voters were in favour of a Kentucky State Lottery so in 1989 the first Lottery tickets went on sale. Then in 1992 a Constitutional amendment was put in place to exempt gambling activities such as bingos, raffles and spin the wheel. However, this was only when these activities were conducted for charitable purposes.
In 2000 the federal Interstate Horseracing Act was amended to make way for internet betting on horse races. Then in 2010, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission revised their definitions for pari-mutuel horseracing to include wagers on historical/previously ran races. These were presented as slot machine video gaming machines (VGMs) at select racing tracks from 2011.
From 2012 to 2016 a number of casino gambling expansion bills were proposed but shot down. This happened annually with the latest being a sports betting bill, and a proposal to legalise online poker and daily fantasy sports betting.
In the early days of horse racing pari-mutuel pool and organized betting wasn’t as regulated as it is today. In fact, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission was only established in the early 1900s. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) is an independent agency of the state government. They are in charge of regulating all horse race and pari-mutuel wagering activities within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. To obtain a licence from the KHRC you need to go to one of the offices or visit one of the track license offices. Along with this, you will need to pay a fee for all the necessary checks.
Apart from the KHRC, there is the Department of Charitable Gaming (DGC). The latter provides the regulatory framework for charitable gaming within the state. They also regulate charitable gaming events ensuring all funds go to the necessary charities.
The lottery is state-run and tickets can be bought via the official Kentucky Lottery website or at local retailers. All proceeds go towards college scholarships via the KEES Scholarship program.
In Kentucky, there is very limited legal gambling options available. The local authorities have shown over the years that they have zero-tolerance when it comes to illegal gambling activities within the state.
In 2008 the Governor’s office made an attempt to seize over a hundred online gambling domain names. This despite the fact that none of these was operating within the state of Kentucky. The battle continued for years but eventually, the courts ruled against Kentucky. There has been more than one fight in Kentucky regarding illegally operated sites providing services to Kentuckians.
This goes to show that Kentucky is extremely serious in keeping things straight and narrow within state lines. On the other hand, it might be quite some time before they start giving the green light to foreign operators wanting access to their gambling industry.
At this current stage, there is only a select number of legal gambling activities available in the state. This includes charitable gambling events such as Bingo and Raffles, horse racing and other forms of pari-mutuel wagering as well as historical horse racing via slot machines. Then, of course, there is the Kentucky Lottery.
Casinos and Gambling Facilities in Kentucky Gambling?
FAQIs horse racing legal in Kentucky?Yes. Kentucky is known as the home of the horse racing industry in the US.Is off-track betting legal in Kentucky?Yes. You will find six race books within Kentucky.Is online betting legal in Kentucky?Currently, only off-track betting on horse racing is legal in Kentucky.Is greyhound racing legal in Kentucky?No. The only racing legal in Kentucky is Horse Racing.Is smoking permitted in Kentucky race books and instant racing casinos?Racinos have an active smoking ban with no smoking allowed in their establishments.Are casinos legal in Kentucky?No. There are no casinos legal in this state.What is the minimum gambling age in Kentucky?You have to be 18 years or older to partake in any forms of legal gambling activities.Does Kentucky have a state lottery?Yes, the State Lottery is active and sells lottery tickets and scratch-offs.Is Fantasy Sports Betting legal in Kentucky?It is a grey area but sites are still able to operate within the state and offer Daily Fantasy Sports betting.Is online sports betting legal in Kentucky?No, currently online sports betting is illegal in the state.