Gambling in the State of Kentucky

There are few available forms of legalized gambling in Kentucky. There is a state lottery. Betting on horse racing is permitted. This includes live races, off-track betting parlors, and mobile apps. Charities may offer games of chance, like raffles and bingo nights. 

Racetracks and off-track betting parlors may have historical racing machines. This is sometimes called instant racing. These devices look like slot machines but use data from past races to determine payouts. 

In March 2023, the Kentucky Legislature legalized sports betting. Racetracks are permitted to write sports betting tickets anywhere there is off-track betting or live races. There are also sports betting apps. These launched in September 2023.

Gambling in the United States

The minimum age for most forms of legalized gambling in Kentucky is 18. That covers horse racing, the state lottery, charitable gambling, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports. The minimum age for historical racing machines is 21.

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Kentucky historical racing casinos

Casinos are not technically legal in Kentucky. However, slots that use data from past horse races are permitted at the state’s racing establishments. This includes live tracks and OTBs. 

A casual observer would say the machines are slots. The same titles and symbols used in casinos are displayed at these gaming establishments. The difference is that a casino slot machine has a random number generator to determine the slot symbols. Historical racing machines use the outcome of a past race and then display the symbols that match the win. Players must be at least 21 years old. 

There are ten instant racing casinos in Kentucky. The closest casinos with traditional slots, poker, and table games are in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia

Kentucky legal sportsbooks

The Kentucky Legislature passed HB 551 on the last day of its session on March 30, 2023. It was signed into law by Gov. Andy Beshear the following day. 

HB 551 allows the state’s racetracks and off-track betting parlors to book sports bets. There are also sports betting sites. These online sportsbooks are licensed through racetracks. There may be up to three mobile betting apps per horse racing licensee. With nine licensed horse racing operators, Kentucky could have up to 27 sports betting sites. That is likely optimistic, as the state can probably only support about ten.

Kentucky racetracks pay $500,000 for their sports betting licenses. Online partners have a $50,000 licensing fee. Renewals are required every year. The fee for master licenses held by tracks is $50,000 while betting sites will pay $10,000 annually after the first year. 

The tax rate is 9.75% for retail sportsbooks and 14.25% for online ones. Problem gambling, administrative costs, and state expenditures will be funded with licensing and tax revenues. 

Live and online sportsbooks opened in September 2023. The minimum age is 18. However, most online sportsbooks require bettors to be 21.

Online gambling in Kentucky

There are three forms of legal online gambling in Kentucky. Horse racing is the most popular. Bets may be made on websites and mobile apps for nearly every race in the country. There are mobile sportsbooks, as described in the previous section.

The other form of legal online gambling is the lottery. Lotto drawings like Mega Millions and Powerball are available on the Kentucky Lottery’s website and its app. There are also online instant games that play like slot machines. This feature is called Play Now. Sweepstakes contests are also allowed in the state.

Daily fantasy sports

Daily fantasy sports contests are available in Kentucky. All major operators accept players in the state, including DraftKings and FanDuel. No state laws apply to DFS in Kentucky. 

Daily fantasy sports contests operate in a gray area in Kentucky. No state law regulates it or makes it illegal. All major daily fantasy sports companies operate in Kentucky. This includes DraftKings, FanDuel, and PrizePicks. The minimum age for daily fantasy sports in Kentucky is 18.

Kentucky horse racing

Thanks to the Kentucky Derby, the state is synonymous with horse racing. There are seven racetracks in the state and many more off-track betting parlors. Bets may be made at live races, simulcast rooms, and on mobile betting apps like Caesars, DraftKings, TVG, and TwinSpire. 

Horse bettors in Kentucky must be at least 18 years old. This applies to live and online betting. 

Kentucky Lottery

The Kentucky Lottery sold its first ticket in April 1989 after winning approval from voters in the previous November election. Instant games, keno, and lotto drawings are offered. Scratch-off instant game tickets run from $1 up to $50. 

The Kentucky Lottery offers online sales. This includes instant games that play like online slot machines. These games start at $0.02 and run up to $20 a spin.

The following lotto games are offered by the Kentucky Lottery. Sales for these games are available at retailers and on the lottery’s website.

  • Cash Ball 225
  • Keno
  • Kentucky 5
  • Lucky for Life
  • Mega Millions
  • Pick 3
  • Pick 4
  • Powerball

Kentucky Lottery players must be at least 18 years old. This applies to sales at retailers and online. 

Kentucky Gambling FAQs

Are casinos legal in Kentucky?

Casinos are not legal in Kentucky. However, racetracks and simulcast facilities have instant racing machines, which operate like slots. 

What is the minimum age for gambling in Kentucky?

For most forms of legalized gambling, including horse racing and the state lottery, the minimum age is 18. It is 21 for instant racing machines.

Is smoking permitted in Kentucky historical racing gaming establishments?

There is no smoking ban in Kentucky. Most gaming establishments permit smoking. Some counties and cities have local bans.

Is sports betting legal in Kentucky?

Live and online sportsbooks launched in Kentucky in September 2023. 

What types of online gambling are legal in Kentucky?

Horse racing apps, sportsbooks, daily fantasy sports, and lottery tickets are legal forms of online gambling in Kentucky.

Are live horse races held in Kentucky?

Yes. There are multiple racetracks in Kentucky.

Can you wager on horse races in Kentucky?

Yes. Pari-mutuel wagering is permitted at racetracks, off-track betting parlors, and on mobile apps in Kentucky.

Does Kentucky have a state lottery?

Yes. Instant games and lotto tickets are available through the Kentucky Lottery.

Can you buy lottery tickets online in Kentucky?

Yes. The Kentucky Lottery sells instant games and lotto tickets online.

Last Updated on September 10, 2023 by John Mehaffey