Kentucky is an anti-gambling state with a deep-rooted horse racing tradition. It’s home to the Kentucky Derby and other prestigious races. Technically “dry”, the Bluegrass State is only slightly more progressive than neighboring Tennessee. But while off-track betting, pari-mutuel, and simulcast wagering flyover at the state’s 6 famed racecourses, Kentucky’s gambling laws remain some of the most strict in the nation.
Kentucky Legal Gambling History
History was made in 1875 when the first race at the world-renowned Kentucky Derby took place.
Throughout the years Kentucky has seen legal challenges aimed at ending race track betting, with one notable attempt in 1931 that luckily didn’t go through.
In 1988 Kentucky saw it’s state lottery become legalized thanks to an amendment passed by a Senate vote. The first drawing took place the next year.
Charitable gaming laws we’re set into play in Kentucky in 1992 which allowed for bingo and pull-tabs.
A bold move was made and a message sent by Kentucky in 2008 when the state seized over 140 domain names of international poker sites. It is an ongoing legal battle today and its outcome remains unclear.
In 2010, Kentucky further took action against unauthorized gambling when the following online poker sites were targeted: Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and UltimateBet for offering the state’s resident illegal online gambling.
Despite the state’s climate, the push for legalizing gambling in Kentucky does happen. In 2011, a bill was presented to legalize slot machines, which was ultimately put to rest by the state Senate.
To date, there hasn’t been much else is taking place on Kentucky’s legal gambling front.
Kentucky Gambling Legal Status
Kentucky is a dry state, you won’t find very much legal here. Although if you are 18 years of age or older you can bet on horse races and play the state lottery. Kentucky allows for off-track, pari-mutuel, and simulcast betting at its race tracks.
Casino gambling, online gambling, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports are illegal in Kentucky and strictly enforced.
Kentucky Race Tracks
Often described as “the greatest two minutes in sports”, the Kentucky Derby takes place every year at Churchill Downs in Kentucky, where the horse racing is recognized as some of the best in the world.
- Churchill Downs – Louisville (Home to The Kentucky Derby)
- Ellis Park – Henderson (Home to Gardenia Stakes)
- Keeneland – Lexington (Home to Blue Grass Stakes)
- Kentucky Downs Franklin (Home to Kentucky Turf Cup)
- The Red Mile Lexington (Home to The Grand Circuit)
- Turfway Park – Florence (Home to JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes)
Kentucky Legal Gambling FAQ’s
What forms of gambling are legal in the state of Kentucky?
- Horse race betting including off-track betting, pari-mutuels, and simulcast betting.
- State lottery.
- Charitable gaming including bingo and pull-tabs.
Will legal online gambling, casino gambling, or sports betting be coming to Kentucky soon?
Highly unlikely. Kentucky is not only anti-gambling, its bent on doing away with online gambling in the sate. They make this clear by going after anyone offering what they see as “illegal gambling” – either online of off – with full-force. All attempts to legalize land-based casino gaming in the state have been shot down to date. Check out some other states and see where they stand in terms of online gambling.