Kentucky Gambling

Kentucky is best known for its horse racing. It is home to the prestigious Kentucky Derby, among other racing events. Other forms of legalized gambling also exist there. Some are spread over the Internet.

Kentucky Horse Racing

There are six racetracks in Kentucky. All offer live horse racing and off-track betting shops. Bettors can make wagers on simulcast races in-person or by phone. The six Kentucky racetracks are:

  • Churchill Downs in Louisville
  • Ellis Park in Henderson
  • Kentucky Downs in Franklin
  • Keeneland in Lexington
  • The Red Mile in Lexington
  • Turfway Park in Florence
  • Thunder Ridge in Prestonburg

Instant Racing

In addition to live and off-track betting, Kentucky racetracks offer racinos. The games are different than most casinos attached to racetracks. Kentucky’s tracks use instant racing machines. These are essentially slot machines that take random past races and display the winner in the form of symbols.

Instant racing in Kentucky was approved in July 2010 by the state’s racing commission. It was met with a court challenge by gambling opponents. The plaintiffs in the case argued that the devices are slot machines, which are considered contraband by the Kentucky Constitution. The state and its racing industry say that the games are simply electronic versions of off-track betting, an activity that is legal under the state’s racing laws.

North Dakota licenses Bet America which accepts legal online wagers for horse racing, dog racing and fantasy sports. This is legal for residents of this state (please read their terms and conditions to ensure this has not changed).

Kentucky Lottery

The Kentucky Lottery was created through a statewide referendum on November 5, 1988. It passed by a 60 to 40 margin. The first tickets were sold by retailers on April 4, 1989. Scratch-off and lotto tickets are sold by the Kentucky Lottery. As of April 2016, lottery tickets are now sold over the Internet in Kentucky.

Kentucky Charity Gambling

Charities are permitted to offer several forms of gambling. Bingo is allowable at any time when spread by a charitable organization. Casino nights are legal through nonprofits. These special events require prior approval and licensing through the state.

Kentucky Online Gambling

The only form of specifically legal online gambling is off-track betting on horse racing. Bets may be made at TwinSpires, BetAmerica, TVG and the local websites operated by the tracks.

TwinSpires is operated by Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. It is a nationwide online off-track betting company.

These companies operate Android and iOS apps, as well as websites that accept bets. Bettors must be located in Kentucky or another state where the service is legal to get action.

Daily Fantasy sports are currently active in this state despite it being somewhat of a grey zone. The Kentucky Attorney General has not declare an opinion on the subject, so most major operators are assuming legality. Rep. Adam Koenig’s House Bill 414, which attempted to explicitly legalise DFS, failed to garner the minimum forty votes required by law.

There are many sites that offer online poker, slots, video poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and sports betting to Kentucky players. Contrary to what these sites may claim, they are not legal in the state. Players should understand the risks when depositing at these sites. There is no recourse if the site cheats or refuses to pay winners.

Kentucky has been known to be a protectionist state bordering on fascism when it comes to online gambling. Back in 2012, their governor decided that he owned the Internet – or at least any domains that appeared through their “tubes”. Read about it here: “Kentucky Internet Gambling Domains Confiscated”.

Seriously, there are some nut-jobs in Kentucky.

Online gaming works — it’s been licensed in Europe for years, and in the US it’s already licensed in New Jersey, Nevada, and in Delaware. If you are a resident of the fine state of Kentucky, don’t just sit there — make your voice heard.


List of States

Click on the links to see what is the online gambling situation in each of those states.