If we are talking about casino gambling, the state of Kentucky does not necessarily jump to the forefront of one’s mind. Not only is Kentucky widely known to be one of the most conservative of the 50 states, but it is also sparsely populated, consisting of more country than cities.
In the same breath, if you know anything about history you know that Kentucky is considered to be the capital of horse racing in the United States and, by some accounts, the world. With all of the wagers that are placed on the thousands of horse races that take place in Kentucky, you might be interested to find out more about the existence of casino-style gambling in the state.
It goes without saying that Kentucky is a bit hypocritical with regard to its gambling, and that is something that does not look like it is going to change anytime soon.
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With five major racetracks located within the borders of the state and no casinos around, it’s no wonder that gambling in Kentucky is predominantly about pari-mutuel betting.
Most of the locals prefer to go to Ohio or Indiana when they want to play slots and other casino games, but more and more gambling enthusiasts have been choosing offshore iGaming sites over the past few years due to permissive gambling regulations. Other than that, Kentucky offers charity gambling events and a state-operated lottery.
Kentucky maintains a hard stance against formal casino establishments. There are currently no casinos operating legally within Kentucky, not even on Native-American reservations. Though there are plenty of on and off-track betting locations, the fact of the matter is that table games and other classic casino staples are not available anywhere within the state’s borders.
Those looking to gamble online will also have a hard time as the Kentucky anti-gambling legal teams are known to persecute all types of gambling operators. Not even offshore casinos are safe from the Kentucky courts. In 2008, Kentucky attempted to seize and shut down 141 domain names associated with online gambling.
Those caught gambling illegally are charged with a misdemeanor and must pay a small fine of ~$100 for their first offense. Kentucky law considers second-time offenders guilty of a felony – they are incarcerated and charged a four-to-five-figure penalty.
Although the state heavily regulates casino establishments, it is quite lenient on social gambling. The wording of Kentucky gambling law implies that table games such as Roulette and Craps may be held in private residences as long as they are played between friends and no profit is generated.
Unfortunately for players looking to gamble in a casino, the best solution to dealing with Kentucky’s strict anti-gambling laws is to leave the state. The neighboring state of Ohio offers a vast selection of Native American casinos that host a collection of slot machines and table games. Players may also choose to participate in Indiana’s riverboat casinos, which are well known for their lively poker tables.
In the summer of 2017, Kentucky Senator Julian Carroll proposed a bill that would allow the state’s racing commission to implement legal sports gambling on the grounds that the license would cost $250,000, and the state of Kentucky would tax 3% of the annual revenue. Although it has not passed yet, the bill would allow betting on both professional and college sports; amateur sports gambling would still be prohibited.
Currently, an unofficial panel comprised of nine members of the Kentucky legislation courts is investigating the issues associated with sports betting. Upon the completion of their review, the committee will either pass the bill or attempt to stop the legalization process altogether.
Kentucky is close to formally legalizing sports gambling, but whether the state follows through with it remains unclear. The potential increase in state revenue and Kentucky’s positive reception to the 2018 Supreme Court decision allowing states to regulate sports gambling are indicators that sports betting stands a good chance of being legalized sometime in 2019.
Kentucky law does not differentiate between electronic sports (eSports) and traditional sports gambling. As a result, eSports betting is currently illegal in the state. If Kentucky redefines eSports careers as “professional sports,” eSports gaming will be legalized at the same time as traditional sports gambling.
Kentucky is also close to legalizing daily fantasy sports (DFS) gambling. House Bill 248, which would allow the regulation of DFS gaming, entered its final stages of review on March 19, 2018. The date for its implementation hasn’t been set yet, but DFS gambling will most likely be legalized sometime in 2019.
Kentucky is famous for its many horse racing tracks and events, the most notable of which is the Kentucky Derby. Players looking for some of the best thoroughbred horse racing in the US will not regret visiting this state.
Pari-mutuel wagering on horse running, trotting/pacing races, and harness races are all legal in Kentucky. Off-track interstate wagering is also allowed at licensed satellite locations.
Here’s a list of the most prominent horse race tracks in Kentucky:
Not only is Kentucky home to a suite of horse racing tracks; it also allows pari-mutuel wagering and simulcast game betting on dog races. Here are some of the most popular dog racing tracks:
– Ohio Valley Raceway located in Louisville.
– The Red Mile located in Lexington.
Poker establishments and live poker tables are explicitly banned in Kentucky. Players will have a hard time accessing online poker tables as well.
Kentucky’s leniency on social gaming also extends to poker. Social games between friends in private residences are legal as long as there are no buy-ins to the poker table and no revenue is generated. Charities are also allowed to host free poker games.
The Kentucky Lottery was started in 1989, and since then, it has generated over four billion dollars in revenue for the state. Any lottery revenue raked in by Kentucky is required by law to go to either the Kentucky Affordable Housing Trust Fund or the general fund.
Multi-state games are available in Kentucky, including popular options such as:
The Kentucky State Lottery also offers:
The state claims 35% of lottery prize pools in the form of taxes. Once the lottery operators are paid their dues, lottery winners are awarded the remainder of the prize money. Lottery winnings are subject to garnishment and must be claimed within 180 days.
Kentucky makes legal exceptions for charity gaming, including games such as:
However, if all the proceeds of a charity gaming event don’t go to an officially recognized charity organization, the event is prosecuted as an illegal gambling establishment.
Some of the most popular Bingo halls in Kentucky include:
The history of Kentucky gambling is interesting in that there really is none. The state’s constitution was drawn up specifically with anti-gambling wordage. The reason for this was due to the fact that, at the time which the constitution was drafted, there were many lotteries in all areas of the state. Though many of these lotteries gave out real winnings to real people in order to support what were mostly legitimate causes, other lotteries were illicit in nature. After some time, the number of illicit lotteries going on in Kentucky reached an intolerable level. Basically, this is a major part of the reason you are unable to play a hand of blackjack in Louisville or any other part of the state.
Even though the state’s constitution explicitly outlawed most forms of gambling, it did and continues to make an exception for pari-mutuel gambling on horse and dog races. To some, this makes no sense at all, but when you consider the fact that the state hosts what is widely known as the top horseracing event in the world,—The Kentucky Derby—you can see why the earliest politicians decided to maintain this style of gambling.
Going back to the lottery discussion, Kentucky was one of the last states to create a lottery system. This is something that did not happen until the 1980s. Since the 1980s, however, there are not many developments to talk about. During the mid-2000s the idea to legalize casino gambling was floated around, but state lawmakers did not make much progress and all of those pieces of legislation eventually failed. There are still plenty of people who think Kentucky will eventually fold and make way for live casinos, but conservative roots
Being that there are no table game or slot options for residents or visitors to Kentucky, your next inquiry might be with regard to where you can gamble in close proximity to the state. If you are in Louisville or Frankfort, you are in luck. Just over the border in Ohio there are a few casinos in close proximity to Cincinnati, Ohio. From some of the more populous cities in Northern Kentucky, residents and visitors are only about an hour and a half drive away from casino gambling in Ohio.
Residents and visitors to other parts of the state often find themselves traveling to Indiana, where riverboat gambling is king. So, at the end of the day, even though there may not be much of any casino gambling options in Kentucky, surrounding states are there to help you out.