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Kentucky's Online Gambling Laws 2024

Lawbook With GavelThe State of Kentucky Gambling Laws primarily support pari-mutuel horse racing, but Kentucky residents are currently voicing their desire to expand legalized gambling in Kentucky, pointing to the riverboat casinos in other states, and expanding gaming found at racetracks in neighboring states. We anticipate that this will drive change both in land-based and online Kentucky gambling.

Kentucky gambling law defines gambling as the act of risking or staking something of value on the result or outcome of a game, contest, gaming device or gaming scheme which is based on an element of chance and upon an understanding or agreement that someone will receive something of value in the event of a specific outcome or result. Below you will find information on how Kentucky state law and/or Federal law impact Kentucky online gambling options.

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    The Definition of Gambling In Kentucky

    Kentucky defines a player as the following:

    "as someone who engages in gambling solely as a bettor or contestant without receiving or becoming entitled to any profit from the gambling activity other than personal winnings and without providing any material assistance to the operation, conduct and establishment of the gambling activity."

    There are no criminal penalties for those who take part in an illegal gambling event exclusively as players. However, profiting from a gambling activity or advancing a gambling activity are both serious criminal offenses under Kentucky gambling law.

    What Types Of Gambling Activity Are Considered Illegal In Kentucky As Of 2024?

    Advancing a gambling activity includes all activities that materially assists any form of gambling including (but not limited to) conduct directed towards the establishment of a specific contest, device, game or activity involved in the gambling activity; acquiring or maintaining the premises, equipment, apparatus or paraphernalia used for the gambling activity; soliciting or inducing persons to participate in the gambling activity, conducting the playing phases of the gambling activity and participating in the financial, recording or any other phase of the gambling activity. Profiting from a gambling activity refers to profiting from the operation of an illegal gambling activity. Both are Class A misdemeanor.

    Poker Gambling Laws In Kentucky

    One can legally play a game of poker in Kentucky, subject to certain conditions. Home poker games are legal as long as they follow the conditions imposed by Kentucky gambling law. The important factor in determining whether or not a home poker game is legal is whether the person organizing the game is promoting gambling.

    A person promotes gambling when he or she knowingly profits from or advances an illegal gambling activity. A player of a home poker game will be charged with promotion of gambling in the first degree if he or she wins or loses an amount in excess of $500 in a twenty-four hour period. This is a class D felony.

    A felony crime generally carries a jail term exceeding one year and a hefty fine. Home poker games where the house rakes the pot or the players pay a charge to participate are illegal. Hosting or conducting such games is also a class D felony. Legality surrounding Kentucky online poker is discussed in further detail below.

    Sports Betting Gambling Laws In Kentucky

    Kentucky does currently have a piece of legislation that lawmakers are working on that would introduce state-regulated sports betting to the Bluegrass State.  The law is not expected to make much headway before 2019.

    Until then, KY residents have the option of participating in Kentucky sports gambling through legally licensed and regulated offshore sportsbooks that accept bettors from Kentucky.  Once the state passes the pending legislation, residents will have access to both domestic sportsbooks and legal offshore sports betting sites.

    Land Based Casino Gambling Laws In Kentucky

    Presently there are no licensed casinos within the state of Kentucky. In February 2012, the state broached the issue of brick and mortar casinos. The Senate voted against letting the voters have a say on the issue. The Governor is making attempts for a casino gambling referendum.

    Currently, there are multiple legal and secure Kentucky online casinos available to players. These sites are located and licensed outside of the USA where they are regulated by governing jurisdictions which have legalized online gambling in their regions.

    Charitable Gambling Laws In Kentucky

    Charitable gambling including casino nights is legal. The law permits schools, churches, and other charitable organizations to operate certain types of games of chance. Even these games are subject to a long list of restrictions. Raffles and bingo are also legal.

    Players who enjoy playing bingo might want to review information on the legal KY online bingo sites that are available and are considered legitimately licensed, offering a safe and secure gaming environment.

    Kentucky Pari-mutuel & Lottery Gambling Laws

    Pari-mutuel betting was started in 1878. Kentucky has eight horse racing tracks. Of these eight, two of them offer other betting games in addition to pari-mutuel betting. The first Kentucky Derby was held in 1875. Pari-mutuel betting is available live and online.

    In 1988 the residents of the state voted to establish the state lottery commission. The first Kentucky state lottery ticket was sold in 1989. Kentucky was amongst the first states to introduce online lottery ticket machines. The state is a member of a multi-state lottery.

    Online Gambling Laws in Kentucky

    Kentucky was amongst the first states to attempt to regulate and control online gambling. Way back in 2008, the then Governor of Kentucky referred to online gambling sites as leeches that seek to unfairly undermine the state's horse racing industry.

    Later that year, pushed by the governor, a judge in Kentucky signed an order that allowed the state to seize and take control of 141 internet domain names related to online gambling including many online poker sites. The order was subsequently struck down.

    Presently there is no law in Kentucky that prohibits playing online poker, online casino games, or online sports betting, but operating and maintaining an online gambling site is illegal.  The state's pending legislation relevant to sports betting may sanction state licensed online sportsbooks, but that remains to be confirmed upon the bill's passage.

    PASPA is a federal sports gambling law that previously restricted US-based sportsbook gambling to four specific regions, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and Delaware.  In May of 2018, the law was rendered unconstitutional by SCOTUS, thereby providing individual states with the opportunity to embrace or prohibit state regulated sportsbook wagering.

    The Federal Wire Act prohibits interstate sports betting - meaning that Kentucky would not be allowed to accept any bets across state lines should they move forward with launching a sports-related gambling industry in the state.

    The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 places strict regulatory oversight regarding how online gambling transactions are processed but does not make participation in an online gambling event illegal.  These regulatory restrictions will also apply to any forms of domestic online gambling that become legal in the state.

    Kentucky Gambling Laws

    For players who want a first-hand look at the official laws and statutes concerning gambling in the state of Kentucky, you can visit this site: Kentucky State Legislature. You will find the state's official legislature documents in their original language and context.

    **If you are seeking a professional interpretation of any law or statute or any type of professional legal service, we recommend that you contact a lawyer. We are professional online gambling consultants, however, we have no formal training in, nor do we hold any degrees or certifications in any type of law. This site is for informational purposes only, and we do not claim to be lawyers or provide legal services.

    Kentucky Gambling FAQ's

    How Does Kentucky Define “Gambling”?

    Gambling is defined in the state of Kentucky as “the act of risking or staking something of value on the result or outcome of a game, contest, gaming device, or gaming scheme which is based on an element of chance and upon an understanding or agreement that someone will receive something of value in the event of a specific outcome or result.”

    What Are The Consequences In Kentucky For “Illegal Gambling”?

    Kentucky is a unique state in that it has no criminal penalties for the actual bettors or players in any illegal gambling establishments. In Kentucky state law a “player” is someone who plays the gambling games and engages in wagering activity as a gambler only and not as an operator in any way. As long as the player is not entitled to any profit outside of their own winnings and doesn’t provide and any assistance to the operators they won’t be arrested and charged with anything.

    Are There Any Land Based Casinos In Kentucky?

    No, the state of Kentucky is one of the few states that have been successful in their attempts of keeping out any land based casinos. In February of 2012, there as an attempt made on the issue of having casinos in the state but the Senate voted against it. There are racino locations where the primary focus is horse race betting.

    What is Charitable Gambling?

    “Charitable Gambling” is a legal term used by states to add another exception in their gambling laws for charitable organizations who wish to use this form of entertainment for the betterment of nonprofit social causes. Organizations like churches and schools have been legally permitted to host casino nights, raffles and bingo as long as the proceeds are used to help alone the social programs that those organizations are attributed to.

    What is Pari-Mutuel Gambling?

    Pari-Mutuel gambling is most often used in racetracks. It’s a form of wagering that has all the participants pick winners and place their bets into a pool before the races start. The people who picked the top three winners of the race divide the winnings according to their picks.

    What About Online Gambling In Kentucky?

    Kentucky has been historically against online gambling. However, some state legislators are preparing a bill that would introduce legal sports betting options. This bill would include provisions for land-based, mobile and online wagering structures in Kentucky.

    Has Kentucky Forwarded New Laws?

    Some Kentucky representatives have pushed out legislation on casino expansion over the past few years. The most recent attempt came in 2017 with a bill that proposed to introduce four commercial casinos. The bill failed to make it to the final stage of processing before becoming an actual law in the state.

    What About Sports Betting Legislation?

    Kentucky is prepared to pre-file a bill in anticipation of the 2019 legislative session. The bill would legalize sports wagering at brick-and-mortar facilities as well as include provisions for domestic online and mobile betting. Kentucky still has a lot of work to do in terms of working out the regulatory kinks, but the intention is there.