Kentucky is highly restrictive when it comes to gambling, which is defined as staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest or game based on an element of chance. Aside from the Kentucky Lottery, regulated gambling is limited to horse race betting at local racetracks.
No land-based casinos exist within the borders of the state, and all attempts at introducing a bill that would allow this form of gambling have failed. The most recent such effort came in 2016 and was championed by Sen. Julie Raque Adams and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, but the local racing industry had no interest in such an endeavor.
Kentucky Gambling Law Summary
Charitable gambling is permitted in the form of raffles and bingo, although these games can’t be accessed online. There are no laws against social gambling, so there’s nothing to stop a Kentucky resident from testing any games in play money mode or joining a site like Zynga. Local regulations also allow gambling enthusiasts to engage in skill-based games as long as chance doesn’t have a more significant impact on the outcome than skill. While this doesn’t apply to poker, Daily Fantasy Sports platforms have been allowed to offer their services to Kentucky residents without any legal repercussions so far.
Gambling is regulated by Section 528 of the Kentucky statutes. The minimum gambling age in Kentucky is 18 for both horse race betting and lottery games.
|Land-Based Gambling||Yes||Pari-mutuel wagering only|
|Online Gambling||No||Although DFS and skill game sites are available|
|Charitable Gaming||Yes||Bingo and raffles|
|Minimum Gambling Age||18 for pari-mutuel, bingo, and lottery games|
Online Gambling in Kentucky
There are no specific regulations on online gambling in Kentucky, and the general definition is broad enough to cover most forms of iGaming. Consequently, engaging in internet gambling on offshore sites in Kentucky is risky, even though sites like Bovada or BetOnline accept Bluegrass State residents.
The current regulations are stringent when dealing with illegal gambling operators, but the state does not penalize the act of placing a bet in an unlicensed game. Consequently, even though the law has been updated without legalizing intrastate gambling operations aside from pari-mutuel betting, Kentucky residents are still free to play on offshore sites without having to worry about any criminal liability.
Fortunately, two of the entities that are allowed to offer land-based gambling in Kentucky operate their own websites. Kentucky Lottery gives you the option to purchase lottery tickets online, and Churchill Downs runs a site called Twin Spires, which allows its customers to wager on horse racing.
Casino games are illegal in Kentucky, so the only way to play them is by traveling to different stated. Some of the most popular destinations include Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Rivers Casino in Pennsylvania, as well as Belterra Casino and Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino in West Virginia.
Legal online casino gaming is limited to social games – if you enjoy play money games, you can choose one of the popular sites such as Zynga, Slotomania, or Big Fish. Unfortunately, those platforms don’t give you the option to play for real money.
If you’re desperate for some legal real money action, you can try a virtual currency site that allows you to win real money prizes, such as Chumba Casino. Keep in mind that the prizes offered by such platforms aren’t too generous, so you’re unlikely to come out ahead on a deposit to a site that follows this business model.
As mentioned, playing on offshore sites in Kentucky is a risky endeavor. Although local authorities don’t seem interested in going after individual gamblers, state regulations give them the power to do so.
Similarly to casino games, playing poker for real money is illegal in Kentucky as local legislators refuse to treat it like a game of skill. If you want to play live poker, your best bet is the Horseshoe Casino in Indiana, which hosts big events, including the World Series of Poker tournaments.
If you want to play online, you can join social sites such as Zynga. The only way to win some real money on internet poker in Kentucky is by joining a virtual currency site with real money prizes, such as Global Poker. However, just as in the case of virtual money casino sites, don’t expect to win any money – the real money options only serve to make things more exciting, not to allow such sites to compete with real online poker rooms.
Playing on offshore poker sites is just as risky as joining one of the Kentucky-friendly offshore casinos. Local authorities don’t seem to care about people who play there, but if push comes to shove, there’s nothing to protect you from legal liability.
Kentucky Sports Betting
Even though the Supreme Court has lifted the federal ban on sports betting, this form of gambling remains illegal in Kentucky. Because the local racing industry appears to be interested in maintaining the status quo, this situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, Kentucky residents can engage in pari-mutuel betting at local racetracks in Louisville, Lexington, Florence, Henderson, and Franklin. Online horse race betting is available via a site called Twin Spires, which is operated by Churchill Downs. Twin Spires is a 100% modern platform with simulcast options, promotions, and a loyalty program.
The legality of betting via offshore sportsbooks is similar to what is seen with offshore poker or casino games. Many sites accept Kentucky residents, but using such platforms may put you in legal jeopardy.
Kentucky Daily Fantasy Sports
Daily Fantasy Sports are available in Kentucky as they’re considered a game of skill, but their legal status hasn’t been challenged yet. With that out of the way, Kentucky residents are currently free to use all the popular DFS platforms, including DraftKings, FanDuel, Fantasy Draft, and Yahoo DFS.
Kentucky residents are free to purchase lottery tickets via the official Kentucky Lottery website. Participants can play Keno, Mega Millions, Powerball, Cash Ball, and Lucky Life. The lottery also hosts 39 Instant Play games, which are functionally similar to internet casino games. The online lottery site even offers a $50 bonus for new customers who deposit $100, but you shouldn’t expect the functionality of a fully-fledged casino site.
Land-based bingo is available in Kentucky as a charity game. Commercial online bingo isn’t regulated but would likely be classified as an illegal form of gambling. Consequently, if you decide to play at a Kentucky-friendly offshore bingo site, you do so at your own risk.
Kentucky Online Gambling FAQ
What types of gambling are available in Kentucky?
Land-based gambling in Kentucky is pretty much all about the Kentucky Derby, as the state allows and even encourages pari-mutuel betting. There are no casinos within the borders of the state, and locals tend to travel to Indiana or Ohio when they want to get some live action. Charitable gambling is also allowed, and the state operates its own lottery. Online gambling is regulated to some extent.
What laws cover online gambling in Kentucky?
The laws and regulations that concern gambling enthusiasts are all listed in Section 528 of the Kentucky statutes. Contrary to what some people might believe, none of those statutes prohibit Kentucky residents playing games of chance over the internet. Consequently, players from Kentucky are free to pursue their hobby online without having to worry about being prosecuted.
Is real money online gambling legal in Kentucky?
As mentioned above, real money internet gaming is 100% legal, as it isn’t prohibited in any of the local statutes.
Which offshore gambling sites accept Kentucky residents?
Offshore sites tend to focus on the states that don’t have any iGaming regulations. Consequently, some sites might refuse new Kentucky-based customers. Fortunately, Bovada is one of the sites that tend to have no qualms about accepting Kentucky residents.
What are the most popular banking options supported by Kentucky -facing sites?
We recommend Visa debit and credit cards, but MasterCard is also a viable option. Once you decide it’s time to withdraw, you should be able to request a wire transfer or a standard check delivered by courier.
Does Kentucky offer any intrastate online gambling?
Yes, Kentucky residents can wager on horse racing on state-approved sites. Sadly, Kentucky doesn’t seem to be interested in opening its local internet gambling market any further. As a result, Kentucky-based gambling enthusiasts have only offshore sites to choose from when it comes to online casino games or poker.
Is it likely for Kentucky to regulate online gambling?
Kentucky already has some online gambling regulations, and most experts agree that a more iGaming-friendly bill isn’t likely to be passed in the foreseeable future.