Guide to Kentucky Gambling Laws

Kentucky Gambling LawsThe first mental-image that many people have of gambling in Kentucky is the world-famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, however, it’s not the only story when it comes to Kentucky gambling.

In the 1980’s, gambling was extended beyond horse racing with Kentucky’s excellent state lottery (available online and land-based), and DFS continues to be offered despite the State Government narrowly voting it down.

For the current environment on online gambling, sports betting laws, online casino laws etc.

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos No No
Fantasy Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker No No
Horse-Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes Yes
Charitable-Gambling Yes No

Kentucky Gambling Tax Rate

Kentucky has a 5% state tax on gambling winnings.

Federal taxes may apply on larger wins.

Kentucky Gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
DFS 18
Horse-Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable-Gambling 18

Kentucky Sports Betting Laws

Gambling laws in Kentucky do not yet extend to legal sports betting, however, its apparent that the state’s legislators have taken it upon themselves to change that since sports betting became legal in the USA in May of 2018.

As in many other states, sports betting taxes appear to be the major hurdle for Kentucky’s lawmakers to overcome before the sports betting legalization can occur.

In the twin state government bills of late 2017/early 2018, BR 155 and House Bill 536 have both sought Kentucky gambling laws to allow sports betting, a $250,000 licensing fee for operators, appoint the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as the government agency in charge of regulating sports betting and set up a 20% tax on the betting handle.

However, given that a gambling friendly state like Nevada has 5% tax for operators or New Jersey who has a 13% tax on Operators, state legislators have wisely foreseen that a 20% state will make it impossible for any operator (state-backed or otherwise) to turn a profit.

While both bills have been seen by gambling industry experts to be a little naïve, it seems like the Kentucky State Legislature have at least begun the conversation and are committed to passing a bill in the near future by which the state can control and profit from legalized sports betting.

Online Sports Betting in Kentucky

Online Sports Betting is currently illegal in the state of Kentucky and nor does it appear that Kentucky will embrace liberal online casino laws anytime soon.

Back in 2008, Kentucky seized more than 140 poker and gambling domain names without notice. Kentucky remarked that the sites in question accepted bets from players within its state lines in total disregard of Kentucky state law.

Conversely, the state of Kentucky accepts some forms of online gambling as legal. Online DFS and the online state lottery and horse and greyhound racing online betting options are completely legal for Kentucky’s residents-and-visitors.

Any desire to change the current state-of-affairs on legal Kentucky online sports betting and online gambling as a whole could change, once legislators potentially hand the issue of legal sports betting onto to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for administration and implementation.

As the issue unfolds and legal online gambling may potentially become available in Kentucky soon, we’ll keep you up-to-date.

<h2>Casinos in Kentucky</h2>

Kentucky’s State Government Statutes on Gambling make it very clear that bricks-and-mortar land-based casinos are a no-no at this point of time in the state.

Kentucky Land-based Casinos

Whilst land-based casinos in Kentucky are prohibited, the state is geographically close to other states (Indiana and Ohio) where land-based casinos are legal-and-available.

Online Casinos in Kentucky

Given that online gambling and casinos, players and operators are actively cracked down upon by lawmakers and the judicial system in the state of Kentucky;

We recommend that online players in Kentucky should abstain from playing U.S.-based-online-casinos and off-shore online casinos until such time that legalization takes place.

Currently in Kentucky, for those players wishing to gamble online, possibilities exist for legal state lottery play, online greyhound and horse racing betting and to play online in real money DFS competitions.

Horse Racing Betting in Kentucky

Racing in Kentucky boasts a rich heritage and the sports continues to be one of the state’s most revenue-rich generating industries. Home of the world-renown Kentucky Derby, the big race and all other Kentucky horse racing is administered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Kentucky’s residents and visitors have legal horse racing betting options through online horse racing betting sites, track side and off-track betting facilities.

Track Side: Kentucky has 7 thoroughbred (including the famous Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs racetrack) and standardbred horse racing tracks as well as numerous county fair tracks that each host an annual race day.

Off-Track Betting (OTB): The State of Kentucky has network of 6 off-track betting locations where bets can be placed on all races in Kentucky and nationwide.

Online Betting on Horse Racing in Kentucky: Online racebooks available to Kentucky residents all have minimal initial deposit requirements and provide online wagering convenience easily from your PC, smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. Visitors or residents of Kentucky over the age of 18 have 100% legal access to online horse betting sites offering betting options on all the big races in Kentucky, nationwide in the U.S. and major worldwide racing events.

Kentucky’s Daily Fantasy Sports Laws

Federal lawmakers in their wisdom have decided that Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) competitions are skill-based events, not gambling on a game that is determined by random chance. Much like sports betting, each state is permitted under Federal law to decide their own position on the legality of DFS competitions.

Major DFS sites operate in Kentucky (legally accepting players from the Bluegrass State) due to the prevailing interpretation of Kentucky gambling law being favorable to DFS. The next step for Kentucky’s legislators is to achieve concrete legal clarity with the passage of DFS legislation.

Kentucky’s Lawmakers attempted to do exactly that with Bill HB 414 introduced in February of 2017. Although the bill was ultimately unsuccessful, it was only 3 votes shy of the required number to pass the DFS legalization bill into law. Consequently, it appears that DFS legalization is only a matter of legislative months and just a few votes away.

Until then, DFS sites are still accepting players from Kentucky under the implicit legal understanding that the games are not officially considered illegal and DFS continues unabated in the Bluegrass State meanwhile.

DFS – An explanation

 For many, DFS still remains a mystery despite the fact around 57 million in the U.S. regularly play DFS. For those of you not ‘in-the-know’, DFS competition betting bears little resemblance to ‘win-loss’ or ‘points-spread’ betting on your favorite pro or college sports teams.

Loosely explained, DFS betting involves drafting a team of players from the league of your choice. The MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, college football and college basketball are all offered and some of the DFS companies also offer PGA Golf DFS competitions.  All of the active players in your chosen pro league are available to ‘draft’ into your team. DFS is extremely demanding as each player has a price tag and you have a salary cap. Subsequently, it’s simply not possible to draft a ‘dream’ team comprised entirely of star players. You will need to manage your budget, picking and choosing wisely to form a well-balanced team.

For example, imagine your virtual NBA salary cap is $150 000. If Golden State’s Steph Curry costs $50 000, you’ll need to give up points scoring opportunities in other key positions. Drafting Curry will take 33% of your salary cap and you still have 8 more places to fill.

Your NBA DFS team accumulates points as your draft picks accumulate stats in the real matches. Assists and 3-pointers earn points for your point guards, rebounds for your centers, blocked shots earn points for your defense etc. Your points total is calculated after all the games of the day/week or round are finished. The person whose team earns the most points in the specified time period, wins the contest. Winning DFS players generally generate the best value for money out of their chosen players. It’s a ‘budget-balancing’ game of skill.

Daily/weekly/or season long DFS winners can potentially receive as much as $1 million or more for each competition in each major league.

Poker Laws in Kentucky

With no legal casinos or poker rooms in the state of Kentucky, there are few options for legal live poker in the state.

On the flip side, home poker games appear to be tolerated as are free poker tournaments (without entry fees). Players in social poker games are specifically excluded from criminal charges whilst persons organizing and profiting from home games can expect hefty fines and potential prison time.

Online Poker Laws in Kentucky

Kentucky’s online players are unable to play Poker online in the Bluegrass State, however, its not all bad news for the state’s potential online gamblers. The state has online betting options for the state lottery, DFS competitions and horse and greyhound racing.

Moreover, Kansas State Legislators have been debating sports betting legalization options, a move that in other states has led to online poker coming along for the ‘legalization ride.’

Kentucky eSports Betting

Legal eSports betting in Kentucky may well establish new betting markets for the state’s residents and visitors with a brash new style of sports betting (once legalized and regulated), undamaged by a previous embargoed past.

The ‘eSports’ phenomenon explained

Professional-level video game play at the highest level (i.e. eSports) has transformed into a global betting phenomenon. An ever-increasing number of international sportsbooks now offer competitive betting markets across all the major network of global eSports tournaments, as eSports betting grows quickly worldwide on the back of the vast improvements of live video streaming technology.

eSports are frequently played in a team-format in worldwide tournaments, and like the same way that football, baseball, basketball and hockey are different types of sports; Dota 2, StarCraft, Call of Duty, FIFA 18 and Overwatch, are the NFL, NHL, MLB, College Football and NBA sports of the eSports world.

Upon the legalization of sports betting in Kentucky, we anticipate that eSports betting will be in the first collection of new betting types available.

Benefits of Legal Gambling to Kansas

  • 95% of funds for University scholarships available from Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) come from legal gambling (Kentucky Lottery Corporation).
  • 100% of funds for University scholarships available from Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship (KEES) come from legal gambling (Kentucky Lottery Corporation).
  • In addition, the Kentucky Lottery funds;
    • The Dual Credit Scholarship Program.
    • Kentucky Tuition Grants.
    • College Access Programs.
    • Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship.
  • 6% of Kentucky’s State Lottery proceeds go back to mostly Mom & Pop retailers who are selling the tickets.
  • 27% of Kentucky’s State Lottery proceeds go back into the state’s consolidated revenue to pay for infrastructure, schools, hospitals, policing, parks, roads etc.

History of Gambling in Kentucky

1862; All states except Kentucky and Missouri ban lotteries.

1875; Kentucky Downs racetrack opens as a crowd of 10 000 watches first the running of the Kentucky Derby.

1906; Horse Racing Betting legalized in Kentucky.

1988; Kentucky State Lottery created by State Referendum.

1992; Charitable Gaming legalized in Kentucky.

2001; First Online Game offered by the Kentucky State Lottery.

2008; Kentucky seize more than 140 poker and gambling domain names without notice.

2012; Land Based Casinos voted down in Kentucky.

2015; State Lottery offered permanently online in Kentucky.

2017; DFS legalization Bill HB 414 fails by only 3 votes to pass Kentucky State Legislature. Meanwhile, DFS continues in Kentucky.



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