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Kentucky Sports Betting

By Jake Patel on
Online sports betting is going live in Kentucky on 28 September 2023 following the passing of the KY sports betting bill on the last day of the 2023 legislative session. Read on for all the latest information regarding pre-registration, which of the leading sportsbooks will be available, and more.
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Kentucky is famous for many things. Not only is this state the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, it is also home to the first ever Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Kentucky also hosts the Kentucky Derby, the oldest horse racing event in the US. However, when it comes to any form of gambling, Kentucky has always been one of the most restrictive of US states.

Where to Place Bets in Kentucky

Where Can I place bets on sporting events in Kentucky?

Sports bill HB 551 was passed on the last day of Kentucky’s legislative session with a vote of 25-12. As a result, a number of sportsbooks will be open for sports betting from 28 September. This includes many of the nation’s favorite sites like Caesars, Bet365, FanDuel, DraftKings, Circa, and Penn Entertainment.  

There are nine race tracks across the state of Kentucky each of which can have work with up to three sportsbooks – this means there’s scope for up to 27 sportsbooks in Kentucky.

Sports Available

What sports will I be able to bet on?

Sports fans will be able to bet on any of the top events including NBA, NFL, MLB and the NHL plus a whole host of other popular sports such as golf, cricket, cycling and MMA. 

On top of this, it no longer appears that college sports fans will have to miss out. Originally it was thought that bettors would be prohibited from betting on in-state college sports, however, following discussion, this clause was removed from the bill before passing. 

Kentucky has no main professional teams however, many neighboring states host popular teams like the Tennessee Titans, the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Reds and the St Louis Blues.

Other Gambling Available in Kentucky

What else can I bet on in Kentucky?

Aside from the upcoming sports betting opportunities, residents can bet on horse racing and play the Kentucky state lottery, including its multi-state drawings. On top of this, residents may also participate in charitable gambling, such as raffles and bingos, as well as betting on fantasy sports online, with DraftKings or FanDuel.

As an alternative to online gambling, residents in the state can play online social casino games, such as Zynga, Big Fish, Slotomania and Double Down. These online games are played for fun, rather than real money.

Kentucky residents could also travel to casino establishments in neighboring states such as Illinois, Indiana and West Virginia in order to participate in legal casino gambling.

Are offshore gambling sites legal in Kentucky?

No. Kentucky residents may not turn to offshore gambling sites to place their wagers online, as these are illegal in the state. But, aside from legality, we’d recommend steering clear of offshore gambling and sports betting sites because of the lack of regulation. This means they may not be secure or may not have measures in place to protect vulnerable players. You also have no way of finding out who is handling the money you deposit into these online accounts.

You can spot offshore gambling sites by looking at the website’s domain name. If you see a domain that ends in .EU or .AG it does not hold a license to operate in Kentucky and therefore should be avoided at all costs.

Keeping Safe When Betting

Will it be safe to bet on sports in Kentucky?

Kentucky already has strict gambling laws, which means that state regulators are likely to implement a tight regulatory framework if Kentucky sports betting were to become legal. This regulation will ensure that sports betting is safe in Kentucky. If you’re worried that you, or a loved one, may be suffering from problem gambling, the National Council on Problem Gambling has a number of resources available.

You can contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline via:

Phone: 1-800-522-4700
Text: 1-800-522-4700
Online Chat

Who regulates gambling in Kentucky?

It’s the Kentucky Lottery Corporation that is responsible for overseeing the state lottery, while the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is regulates pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing in the state.

How old do I have to be to gamble in Kentucky?

Bettors must be 18 years old to wager at racetracks and play the lottery.

Timeline of Legalization

The journey to legal and regulated sports betting in Kentucky

1805 – The first official horse racing track opened its doors.1875 – The Kentucky Derby was held for the first time.

1931 – An attempt to make horse racing wagering illegal failed after the high court ruled against claims that horse racing betting should be banned under state legislation that covered lotteries.

1988 –An amendment to the state lottery passed, thanks to a Senate vote. The first lottery draw was held one year later in 1989

1992 –The state relaxed its regulations on charitable gambling which allowed for charity gambling events to be held. Charity gambling events include special events, bingo games and pull-tab games.

Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibiting sports betting across US states. Four states were made exempt from the law: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. These states had legal sports betting regulations in place.

2008 –Kentucky attempted to seize over 140 domain names from international and offshore poker operators. The operators are still using these domain names and the issue is still being discussed to this day as it is not clear whether an individual state has the power to seize domain names.

2010 – The state took legal action against various poker operators for offering illegal gambling to state residents. The operators included PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet Sites.

2011 – The Kentucky Senate struck down a bill that would legalize and license slot games.

2016 – A bill to introduce casino gambling in the state was introduced but did not find support in the state legislature.

2018 – On 14 May, the Court reached a decision. In a 7 – 2 vote it was agreed that one of the clauses in PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment, as its commandeered power from states to regulate their own gambling industries. This paved the way for all US states to decide whether or not to legalize sports betting. In the weeks after the repeal of PASPA a number of US sportsbooks launched across the country.

Two sports betting bills were pre-filed for the 2019 legislative session shortly after the repeal of PASPA. The bill, BR15, was filed on 7 September 2018 and the bill BR320 was filed on 9 November 2018. Although both bills call for legal and regulated sports betting, BR320 is more comprehensive and contains details on taxation.

2020 – This year saw a level of optimism that hadn’t yet been witnessed in the state. Governor Andy Beshear offered Kentucky as the favored state to pass sports betting legislation when showing full support for the sports betting bill that had been filed by Rep Adam Koenig.

2021 – Following further support from Gov Andy Beshear, several Kentucky House of Representative members brought forward measures to legalize sports betting. This included another offering from Rep Adam Koenig. Unfortunately none of the bills were passed through the initial submission process.

2022 – A fourth sports betting bill was suggested by Rep Adam Koenig. As expected, it was passed by his own committee and for the first time was cleared with a vote of 58-30 by the House. There was still work to be done as Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer suggested that full support was still not apparent.

2023 – After the initial failing of sports betting bill HB 106, HB 551, led by Kentucky Rep Michael Meredith was passed on the last day of the legislative session for 2023. Passing with a vote of 25-12 in March 2023, the bill gives sports betting licenses to nine horse racing tracks, each of which can offer three online sportsbooks to customers. On 10 July 2023, it was announced that retail sports betting would be available from 7 September 2023 and online sports betting from 28 September 2023.

 

The people behind this page

Compare.bet's online gambling content experts helped write, edit and check the content on this page:

Jake is a gambling content specialist for Compare.bet, with a focus on the regulated US market. He is responsible for producing news content for Compare.bet News, state guides for Compare.bet US and has interviewed several senior executives within the gambling industry. Jake previously wrote for Gambling Insider and LGBT+ news site PinkNews.