Gambling in Kentucky – Legal Info & Best Kentucky Gambling Sites 2024

Kentucky gambling is legal online and in retail locations, with sports betting launched on September 28th 2023. With real money online casinos and poker rooms prohibited in the state, offshore sites are the best option for both sports and casino betting. Our complete guide to KY gambling will cover all of the available forms of online betting in the Bluegrass State, the top sites, the latest gambling laws, and the upcoming brands.

How We Rate Gambling Sites in Kentucky

Find out more details about how we rate online gambling sites in Kentucky. We make sure you can enjoy a range of gambling products, bank securely, and claim bonuses with fair requirements.

Latest Kentucky Gambling Update and News

Stay up to date with the latest Kentucky gambling laws and available sites by following our updates here:

  • September 28, 2023 – Sports betting is launched in Kentucky.
  • July 27, 2023 – Retail sports gambling will launch on September 7, 2023, according to the CEO of Churchill Downs Inc., which owns the Kentucky Derby. This will line up perfectly with the start of the NFL season.
  • July 21, 2023 – In a new update, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission reveals five gambling operators that are preparing for the launch in September. The brands are BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, WynnBET, and Circa Sports.
  • July 17, 2023 – The Kentucky Sports Wagering Advisory Council is created by Gov. Andy Beshear. The organization will help oversee the gambling industry in the state.
  • July 10, 2023 – According to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, online gambling on sports will go live on September 28, 2023. Retail sportsbooks receive a 3-week head start.
  • March 31, 2023 – Gov. Andy Beshear signs HB 551 into law, less than 24 hours after the bill received legislative approval. The bill legalizes sports gambling in KY, both in retail locations and online.

Kentucky Online Gambling Summary

This is a quick look at the available gambling options in Kentucky and other key details:

Date legalized: March 31, 2023
Betting Launch in Kentucky: September 7, 2023 for retail sportsbooks
September 28, 2023 for sportsbooks online
Gambling age in Kentucky 18 years and older
Regulator: Kentucky Horse Racing Commission
Tax rate: 14.25% for online gambling operators
9.75% for retail gambling operators
Application fee: $500,000
Where taxes go: Kentucky Permanent Pension Fund
Brands we Recommend BetOnline, Wild Casino, XBet

Is Gambling Legal in Kentucky?

Yes, gambling is legal and available in Kentucky in multiple forms. With the latest update to the gambling laws taking place in March 2023, residents and visitors in the Bluegrass State can now take part in legal sports betting. The first retail sportsbooks were launched to open on September 7, 2023, while KY online sportsbooks launched on September 28.

The Kentucky gambling bill allows the nine horse racing tracks in the state to apply for licenses. Moreover, each track can have up to three gambling sites, which means that players can have access to a maximum of 27 licensed and regulated options in KY.

Other forms of gambling available in the state include sweepstakes and social casinos. Since these don’t use real money to make bets, they don’t qualify as actual gambling options. However, it is worth mentioning that sweepstakes sites can award real prizes.

Horse racing gambling is legal as well, as is buying lottery tickets online and through licensed retailers. You can also enjoy offshore gambling sites that offer real money casino gaming as these sites are based outside the US.

Kentucky Gambling Laws

HB 551 became law in March 2023, providing the framework for gambling in the state. It is the highlight of all Kentucky gambling laws and legalizes betting on sports, both in retail locations and online. The bill also states the taxes that the operators have to pay and the advertising restrictions.

While previous bills also included online poker and daily fantasy sports, these were dropped by Kentucky lawmakers for HB 551 in order to make it more likely to pass. The strategy worked as the bill passed the Senate after receiving 25 votes in favor and 12 against.

Who Can Gamble Online in Kentucky?

Players must meet the minimum gambling age of 18 in order to bet online in Kentucky. Moreover, only gambling at licensed and regulated sites is allowed and users must stay within state lines. Online sites are required to use a geolocation plugin, while apps have one built in.

Types of Kentucky Gambling Available

You can find a quick rundown of the different types of gambling available in the state below.

TYPE ALLOWED Year Legalized
Land-based casinos N N/A
Land-based sportsbooks Y 2023
Online casino sites and apps N N/A
Online betting and apps Y 2023
Horse racing Y 1805
DFS Y N/A
Lottery Y 1989
Online Poker N N/A

Kentucky Sports Betting and Gambling Sites

The Kentucky sports gambling bill allows for all types of betting on professional and collegiate sporting events. This includes gambling on in-state collegiate teams, like the ones from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. Players and athletic staff cannot place bets or share information related to collegiate matches, according to NCAA rules.

Horse Race Betting Sites

Horse racing has a very long history as Kentucky is regarded as one of the biggest states for the sport. It is home to the Kentucky Derby, the most prestigious horse race in the country. This event takes place every year at Churchill Downs, tracing its roots back to 1875.

There are nine racetracks in the state that host loads of events throughout the year. Gambling devices allow players to quickly place their bets at these retail locations, but there is also an option to bet on horse racing online, through dedicated sites, like TwinSpires and TVG. For both options, players are required to meet the minimum legal gambling age in Kentucky, which is 18 years old.

DFS Gambling Sites

Kentucky gambling laws don’t address daily fantasy sports contests directly. As a result, the major sites operate in a somewhat gray area in the state since there is no gaming law that prohibits or allows for DFS gambling. The good news is that players can easily access platforms from the likes of FanDuel and DraftKings, take part in contests, and withdraw their winnings while in KY.

Casino Gambling in Kentucky

There are no full-fledged land-based casinos in Kentucky. Many locations used to offer slots-like games that saw an extra picking phase to make them look like games of skill. However, these became illegal with the passing of HB 594 on March 16, 2023.

Now, the nine horse racing tracks are the only ones that have gambling machines that can look like slots, known as historical horse racing (HHR) games. Here, the outcome is not determined by spinning rollers, but based on a random race from the distant past. The payouts are awarded from the parimutuel pool, which helps make these games look like games of skill.

Poker rooms are not available at this time given the lack of commercial casinos in the state. The gambling laws don’t allow for any online casinos either. However, the sweepstakes and social casinos remain legally available in Kentucky despite the fact that some sites can be prohibited. A few casino poker gambling games are included as well, with BetRivers.net offering a great selection of social options, including Casino Hold’em and Caribbean Stud.

Kentucky Lottery

The Kentucky Lottery was established on April 4, 1989 to allow for lottery sales for modern-day draws. However, the first authorized lottery in KY took place in 1792, making it one of the oldest lottery states in the nation. Now, lottery players in Kentucky can easily access the site or any of the many retail locations to take part in various games, including Mega Millions and Powerball. Scratch-offs are available on the site as well.

While none of our recommended sites offer lottery tickets, the top sweepstakes Kentucky casino gambling sites have lottery-style games, like keno and scratchcards.

How to Sign Up for Online Gambling in Kentucky

Online gambling is easily accessible and signing up to start betting doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes. To help you throughout the process, we will go through the steps required to create an account online.

Step 1 – Go to the Site and Join

To get started, simply go to your chosen sportsbook by clicking on the visit button in our review. Once on the site, select the preferred product. Then, click the “Join Now” button to start the sign-up process.

Step 2 – Create a Gambling Account

Fill out the boxes in the registration form, starting with a valid email and a preferred username and password. The following pages will require your name, address, date of birth, and other details.

Step 3 – Deposit Funds to Your Account

Once the account is ready, you can sign in using your username and password. Then, open the cashier from the account menu and select the preferred banking method. Enter the amount you wish to deposit and the required details to complete the transaction.

Step 4 – Claim the Welcome Bonus

Make sure to claim the gambling welcome bonus for the respective product. Depending on the offer, you may just have to select the bonus or place a first bet on the site to activate the deal.

Step 5 – Enjoy Kentucky Gambling

You can now browse the available markets and choose which gambling options to make. If you win, the payout will be added to your account balance automatically. You can withdraw funds at any time after fully verifying the account.

Kentucky Gambling Bonuses You Can Expect

Premium Kentucky gambling sites offer various types of bonuses and promotions that can help players win more. The available deals will depend on the type of gambling available on the platform. These are the main bonus categories that you can expect to find in KY:

  • Welcome Bonuses: Gambling welcome bonuses are the most common as operators give new players incentives to join the action. A welcome bonus is usually available for registering or on the first deposit on the site.
  • Deposit Match Bonuses: Popular promotions will provide players with extra funds when depositing money to their accounts. These offers have a fixed percentage and a maximum limit. For example, you can claim a 20% deposit match bonus up to $500 at FanDuel DFS.
  • On-going Promotions: When it comes to KY online gambling promotions, players can expect various deals and campaigns. These can consist of boosted odds for betting markets, money-back guarantees, bonus wheels with prizes, and more.
  • Bonus Bets: When using bonus bets, you don’t have to spend your own money to place a wager. If the bet is successful, you will receive the profits without including the initial betting amount. New customers can expect bonus bets when playing on the top sites.
  • Loyalty Bonuses: All of the major online gambling brands in Kentucky have their own loyalty programs for rewards and bonuses. In most cases, you just have to place your bets in order to receive loyalty points. Then, you can use the points to claim loyalty bonuses.

Payment Methods at Kentucky Gambling Sites

With the current Kentucky gambling laws, players have access to a wide range of banking methods. The available options will also depend on the chosen platform, but these are the most popular ways to add funds and withdraw the winnings:

  • Bank Cards: Arguably the most convenient banking options for online gambling are credit and debit cards. Most sites accept Mastercard and Visa, while some also support American Express and Discover cards. These allow for quick deposits and can also be used to withdraw on regulated platforms.
  • Wire Transfer: A direct bank wire transfer is recommended when it comes to large sums of money. While processing is not always fast and it can take a couple of days for the transfer to complete, the banking method often has large limits.
  • E-Wallets: Options like Skrill and PayPal are becoming more popular in the US, but their availability can depend on Kentucky gambling laws. While sweepstakes sites generally accept Skrill, licensed operators usually have PayPal and Apple Pay as available payment methods.
  • Prepaid Cards: Prepaid vouchers and cards add an extra layer of protection given the fact that users don’t have to share their banking details online. Instead, you just buy the card from an outlet or authorized site and then use the code to deposit.
  • Casino Cage Cashier: This is an option that we expect to see in KY with the new gambling laws. Users can add funds to their online accounts by using cash at the local retail partners in the state.
  • Online Banking: As long as you meet the required Kentucky gambling age, you can use online banking services to deposit and withdraw funds at licensed sites. Trustly is one of the biggest operators for gambling in the US.

Who Regulates Online Gambling in Kentucky?

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is responsible for licensing and regulating operators in Kentucky according to the current gambling laws. All nine racing tracks in the state can apply for retail and online sports gambling licenses and partner with other companies to launch. Furthermore, each track can have up to three online sites.

The Kentucky Lottery Commission will also provide oversight for the gambling services in the state to ensure that they comply with the Kentucky state law.

Responsible gambling will be promoted through various tools, including the option to self-exclude. Moreover, the regulations prohibit false or misleading advertising, as well as the use of terms like “risk free” or “free” in promotional materials. Any gambling activity that is suspected to lead to addiction should be reported to the commission.

Tax and Tax Revenue on Kentucky Gambling Activity

According to gambling laws, players in KY will have to pay a 6% tax on proceeds, which represent the winnings minus the placed bets. This is a solid tax rate, but it does fall behind some of the other states that can charge only around 3%, or nothing at all. In addition to the state tax, players are also required to pay federal taxes based on their annual income, which is 24% for most customers.

Operators also pay taxes based on their profits, with online gambling sites being taxed a flat 14.25% and retail sportsbooks paying 9.75%. This is on top of the $500,000 cost to apply for a license and the annual renewal cost of $50,000.

Kentucky Gambling Apps & Mobile Sites

Players in Kentucky can easily continue their gambling activity on mobile devices. All of the featured sites are compatible with iPhone and Android phones directly from the browser. Some also provide downloadable gambling apps that can easily be installed on smartphones and tablets.

Kentucky Gambling Sites vs Commercial Casinos

Kentucky doesn’t have any commercial casinos, which makes gambling sites the best way to access different betting options. The nine racetracks come close to land-based casinos as they offer historical horse racing (HHR) machines that look a lot like slots. However, online sites are much better for gambling activity and they have the following pros and cons:

Pros: pros

  • Hundreds of games on sweepstakes gambling sites
  • Easy to browse betting options on sportsbooks online
  • Players don’t have to travel to a specific location to bet
  • Top operators often offer bonuses, promos, and rewards
  • Can access gambling options on mobile devices

Cons: cons

  • Can’t instantly withdraw the gambling winnings
  • Online sites lack the complete social environment

Tips How to Stay Safe When Online Gambling in Kentucky

In order to practice responsible KY gambling, we recommend following these tips to stay safe and enjoy the activity without issues:

Play at Legal Sites

Make sure the sites that you bet on align with the gambling laws in Kentucky. This means only playing with operators that are licensed or are allowed in the state. Although the latest gaming law only targets sports betting, KY also allows for social and sweepstakes casinos and daily fantasy sports contests. Stay up to date with the latest Kentucky sports gambling update for the newest legal sites.

Gamble Responsibly

Responsible online gambling is a major focus in Kentucky. To make sure that you avoid any issues, we recommend setting a budget for gambling that is funded from disposable income. Don’t bet money that you have to use for other key aspects, such as paying rent, buying food, or something similar.

Set Limits

You can set limits for deposits, betting, losing, and even winning. Don’t overlook these and make sure that you choose the right levels for your budget and playstyle. Once a limit is reached, stop any gambling activity. We also recommend stopping when it is no longer fun.

Don’t Share Your Account Details

When registering, choose a strong password that you don’t use anywhere else. Moreover, don’t share your account details with anyone else, especially via email to someone pretending to be from the operator. Legitimate gambling sites will never ask for your account password.

Enjoy the Winnings

After making a profit from a gambling activity, we recommend withdrawing all or at least a portion of the amount. This way, you get to actually enjoy the winnings doing something else. To speed up the withdrawal process, you should verify the account early by submitting the required documents according to the gaming law.

How Kentucky Gambling Compares to Neighboring States

Kentucky was definitely feeling the pressure from neighboring states to legalize online gambling. Most of the states in the area already had some form of online betting options. West Virginia is arguably the best in this regard as it has multiple WV online casinos and top sportsbooks.

Virginia doesn’t have casino gambling online, but it did launch sports betting sites in January 2021. There are now 14 apps and the best Virginia online gambling sites include brands like DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars.

To the South of Kentucky, Tennessee online gambling is thriving as well, with more than a dozen sites being active right now. The state launched the first platforms in November 2020, but it doesn’t have any retail sportsbooks.

Although Kentucky only shares a small border with Missouri, it is worth mentioning that the Show Me State hasn’t licensed any form of online gambling. It remains to be seen if the new Kentucky online gambling laws attract MO visitors looking to place some bets. However, Illinois seems like the best bet for this given the shared St. Louis area.

Speaking of Illinois gambling, the state legalized sports gambling in June 2019 and now has seven sites available. It also has a solid land-based casino industry, although it doesn’t license any real money casinos online.

As for the last two states, we have Indiana gambling and Ohio gambling, with both markets doing very well and providing more than ten options for players within their respective borders. In both cases however, only online sports gambling is legal, while casinos remain prohibited.

Kentucky Gambling Casinos

Kentucky doesn’t have any land-based casinos. Despite this fact, there used to be quite a few establishments that offered slot machines with an extra picking round, which allowed operators to promote them as games of skill. This helped them avoid gambling laws in Kentucky, despite being unregulated. In March 2023, a new bill explicitly banned these co-called “gray machines”.

Best Kentucky Online Gambling Site

Our experts have chosen BetOnline as the best gambling site in Kentucky. The offshore sportsbook boasts a fantastic variety of options, while ensuring that all players can enjoy their gambling activity safely and securely.

FAQs

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Affiliate Disclosure: Techopedia may receive advertising commissions for visits to a suggested operator through our affiliate links, at no added cost to you. However, all our recommendations are unbiased and follow a thorough review process. Gambling can be addictive, please play responsibly and you must be a legal gambling age.

Vlad Grindu
Gambling Expert

Vlad has more than a decade of experience in the gambling industry, specializing in analyzing and reviewing online betting platforms. He is an expert in casino games and sports betting, providing detailed guides for major publications in the iGaming industry, including Casino.org and Covers. Vlad has a Master’s Degree in Economics and enjoys the occasional esports game.