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Gambling in Kentucky

Kentucky has had extremely strict anti-gambling laws ever since the introduction of its constitution in 1792. However, changing attitudes and the 2018 Supreme Court repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) has a swing in favor of legalizing gambling. New bills are headed through Kentucky’s government and we might soon see them enshrined in law.

Kentucky has had extremely strict anti-gambling laws ever since the introduction of its constitution in 1792. However, changing attitudes and the 2018 Supreme Court repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) has a swing in favor of legalizing gambling. New bills are headed through Kentucky’s government and we might soon see them enshrined in law.

Available in this state

Is Online Sports Betting Legal in Kentucky?

With sports betting not yet legal in KY, things might soon be about to change. It all starts with the overruling of PAPSA. Introduced in 1992, this act banned sports betting across all states except Nevada. Repealing it put the power for legalization back into the hands of state governments. Since then, lawmakers in Kentucky have slowly made changes and watched other states like New Jersey as they introduced their laws.

Many people believe that players illegally wager around $150 billion throughout the entirety of the United States each year. With KY being a hotspot for many top sporting events in the US – in the form of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville and NASCAR events at the Speedway in Sparta – it is not surprising that lawmakers want to gain control over this. By regulating the industry within state borders, it will make gambling in Kentucky a safer experience for players overall.

House Bill 137 will legalize sports betting in several key areas in the Bluegrass State, including horse racetracks, the Kentucky Speedway, and sports events with the teams from the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville. This bill passed its House Committee unanimously in January of 2020 and will now head to the House of Representatives. It has also received an endorsement from the state’s Governor, Andy Beshear. LegalBetting will report on the progress of this bill and if online gambling becomes legal in KY, we will recommend the best sportsbooks for your first bet.

Does Kentucky Offer Online Casinos?

Though many sites claim to offer online casino play in Kentucky, the state government doesn’t regulate any of them. LegalBetting does not recommend playing at such sites as players would have no one to turn to if the casinos choose to wrongly withhold any winnings. Sites could even close in a crack-down; resulting in a potential complete loss of funds for players.

Players will also struggle to enjoy casino gambling in KY as there are no commercial casinos in the state. Though there are a few charitable ones, most players will have to head across state lines if they want to play at a brick-and-mortar casino. However, skill-based Historical Horse Racing (HHR) electronic gaming machines are available to play at many of the state’s racing tracks. According to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s 2019 statistics, these HHR machines had a monthly RTP of approximately 91.5%.

If the law changes to legalize online casino gambling in the Bluegrass State, you will find coverage here on this page.

Is Online Poker Available to Play in Kentucky?

Online gambling in the form of poker games has always been a difficult issue in Kentucky. In 2008, the state attempted to close approximately 140 providers, including major names like PokerStars, by seizing control of their domain names. While most providers rightfully had their domain names returned, it clearly shows the attitudes of the lawmakers at the time.

The suit against PokerStars and its parent company, The Stars Group, was well-publicized. It was the first time a state had brought legal action against an online gambling provider and was thought to be the single biggest ruling against a company in the history of the state, worth a total of $870 million. The Kentucky Court of Appeals overturned the suit in late 2018.

While House Bill 137 focuses on sports betting, it could open the doors for the legalization of other forms of online gambling in KY, including poker. State Representative Adam Koenig is the force behind many of these pushes to legalize online gambling in the Bluegrass State and this includes the legalization of online poker.

For now, some sites do claim to offer poker to Kentucky-based players. However, as can be seen from the actions of the state in 2008, the government does not accept this. The state does not regulate sites currently offering these services and there is no guarantee that they are safe to play at. LegalBetting will monitor and report on any new bills introduced that look to change the legality of online poker in Kentucky.

Does Kentucky Offer Daily Fantasy Sports Sites?

Daily fantasy sports are currently not legal in Kentucky, but the state does not explicitly ban them either. Popular fantasy sports providers like DraftKings and FanDuel do offer their products to players, but the state does not endorse this. Compare this to other states; not only do they regulate these providers but, in the case of New Hampshire, they might even have exclusive deals to offer their products.

Until explicit changes come into law, the state recommends that its residents refrain from playing at these sites. Changes to online gambling laws in Kentucky are on their way. Should House Bill 137 become law, Koenig has indicated that his next target for legalization would be areas like fantasy sports. With many sportsbooks also offering some form of these, the introduction of new products should be an easy task for both providers and customers who have learned how to use sportsbooks. If the Bluegrass State introduces regulations and legislation targeting daily fantasy games, you will be able to find full details on this page.

Is an Online Lottery Available to Play in Kentucky?

Lawmakers introduced the state lottery in Kentucky in 1988, with the first tickets going on sale on April 4th, 1989. Its introduction was a major campaign pledge from gubernatorial candidate Wallace G. Wilkinson, who went on to win. Games within the state include small daily drawings worth up to $2500 and the daily Cash Ball. Prizes here can go up to $200,000.

The state Lottery takes part in the multi-jurisdictional games Lucky for Life, Mega Millions, and Powerball, while also offering instant scratch games on their website. You can play the Kentucky Lottery online, via their app, or you can pick up a ticket at multiple retailers around the state. Players must be 18+ to buy tickets and participate in the draws. Join the Lottery’s Fun Club for exclusive games, second chance promotions, and special offers like coupons.

Other Important Gambling Facts About Kentucky

If Kentucky legalizes sports betting, experts calculate that it would bring in an estimated $22.5 million in tax revenue. Bets could be made in-person at the racetracks or on apps regulated by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission; the governing body nominated by House Bill 137. Their license would initially cost $500,000 with an annual fee of $50,000 after.

The state’s revenue would come from a 10.25% tax on in-person bets and a higher rate of 14.25% for online bets. This revenue would first go to the cost of the regulation of gambling in KY. Should there be any surplus, 5% will go to tackling gambling addiction and the other 95% will go to a fund for state contributions to public pensions.

Of the revenue earned through the state lottery, 64% goes back to players as prizes, 25% goes to the Commonwealth of Kentucky to be put back into education, 6% goes to the retailers who offer the tickets, and the remaining 5% covers the lottery’s administration costs. Since the lottery’s inception in 1989, approximately $1.8 billion has been raised for the state’s general fund and their K-12 educational program SEEK. Another $3.6 billion has been given in collegiate scholarships and grants.

What’s Next for Gambling in Kentucky?

Exciting changes in relation to online gambling legislation are coming soon. Should House Bill 137 pass into state law, we could see online casinos and daily fantasy sports all becoming legal in the state soon. Should there be any updates on the bill’s progress or the status of the legalization of multiple forms of online gambling in Kentucky, we will post them on this page.


Currently, online gambling is not legal in Kentucky. Though there are no laws explicitly banning play at online casinos that allow American players, attempted shutdowns by the state government have shown that this style of play is not sanctioned by Kentucky lawmakers.

You cannot bet on sports in this state for now. However, House Bill 137 should make this form of gambling in Kentucky legal if passed by the state’s lawmakers. This will hopefully open the doors to the legalization of many other forms of wagering too.

Kentucky allows charitable casino games, but there are no traditional brick-and-mortar casinos in the state for players to visit. The state doesn’t allow play at online casinos either.

Slot machines are not legal in Kentucky as they are games of chance. However, you can find games of skill called Historical Horse Racing electronic gaming machines at many of the major racetracks around the state.


Jennifer Marsh

Jennifer is constantly on the lookout for the latest updates on US gambling legislation. She has a soft spot for blackjack and poker, but spends a lot of time writing about other facets of the online gambling world as well.

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