It’s complicated. A bill looking to legalize daily fantasy in Kentucky was torn up despite gaining a narrow win in a House vote; it did not receive the votes required to pass the Senate.
And yet DraftKings, FanDuel and others still offer Kentucky daily fantasy sports, and that’s because the government hasn’t actively outlawed it, either.
“The attorney general of New York one day just declared [daily fantasy] illegal in New York, and we don’t want that to happen here,” Rep. Adam Koenig said. “We wanted to be a legislative solution. We didn’t think that was going to happen, but it’s better off to do it this way and to make sure it’s legal.”
That means players can enjoy these games without fear of repercussions.
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A least one aspect of the gambling infrastructure in Kentucky is thriving, with nine racinos (a racetrack-and-casino mash-up) offering more than 2,000 slots and game machines.
Most of these casinos comprise a part of world-famous racetracks, including Churchill Downs—host of the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and more. Pari-mutuel horse race betting remains as popular as ever at these venues.
But that just hides the fact that Kentucky is a state where gambling is still largely frowned on. There are no dedicated casinos or sports betting facilities, and only some "charitable" games where gambling is at the heart are allowed.
Kentucky revised statutes § 230.010 and § 528.010 cover sports betting and gambling, and they ultimately serve to prohibits betting in most of its forms within the state.
Online gambling in Kentucky has yet to really take hold. Back in 2008 some 140 domain names, which were either gambling operators or sites linked to betting, were seized by the state and named "gambling devices," which are strictly prohibited under state law. There are a small number of online operators in the Bluegrass State, but they are licensed and linked exclusively to the parimutuel betting industry that continues to thrive here.
Kentucky online gambling, on a wider scale, is still a pipe dream for locals. But help might be at hand. A bill will be presented to the 2019 legislative session that would legalize sports betting in the state at licensed premises, and while the details include a "prohibitive" tax rate for operators, there is hope that the proposals will gain plenty of support.
The stance in Kentucky has been largely anti-gambling, although the state’s love of horse racing continues to manifest itself in betting, albeit in limited forms, to this day.
The state's liberal approach to horse racing wagers contrasts its opposition to most other forms of betting. Operators who try to set up shop in the state have little to no chance because of the state's heavy-handed approach to protecting its existing licensed premises.
So Kentucky online casinos aren’t "a thing" and locals currently have no legal means to play their favorite casino games online.
As we discovered in the "Online Casino Gaming in Kentucky" section, the fear factor regarding potential punishment belongs to operators, which should also dissuade players. There are no legal channels for Kentucky online poker players.
When you're watching sports in Kentucky, you can't legally bet on football, baseball, basketball or any other sport, for that matter, except for horse racing. All of the state's big-name racetracks take bets on their races, and a few—such as Churchill Downs—have set up their own websites to allow gamblers to bet on the races from their smartphones and tablets in real time while sitting trackside.
Hopes are that the 2019 bill attracts plenty of support to change that, in which case Kentucky sports betting could become a reality within the next year or so.