While surrounding states have legalized various forms of best online casinos, sports betting sites and poker, Kentucky has chosen to stand pat. A bill to legalize online and in-person Kentucky sportsbooks was passed, and sports fans can wager on their favorite teams both in-person and online. However, online casino wagering opportunities in the commonwealth remain limited.
Pari-mutuel wagering remains popular in Kentucky, where Churchill Downs has played host to the Kentucky Derby every year since 1875. While casino gambling may someday find a home in Kentucky, right now, it’s not much of a horse race.
Social Casino Disclaimer: Due to regulations in the state, we are unable to show operators that only operate as social casinos. However, as online sports betting is legal in this state, we can list any operators that have both a social casino and a sportsbook.
Casino gambling of any kind is not legal in Kentucky so those looking for sites similar to New Jersey online casino apps will have to travel to neighboring states. Residents who want to play online slots or table games can do so at social and sweepstakes casinos such as WinStar, LuckyLand and Chumba, which provide free virtual coins and the opportunity to win jackpot prizes with no real money changing hands. Gambling.com’s top-rated social casinos are listed above.
Casino gambling on offshore-based sites is never recommended. Most of these sites operate without regulation or oversight. When offshore sites abruptly shut down, players can lose access to their funds with no recourse. There is also no guarantee that the slot machine or table game you are playing is fair.
State lawmakers have not made legalizing online casino gambling a priority. Instead, they have introduced and approved several bills to legalize retail and online sports betting. While locals can finally bet legally, things don't look so good for online casinos. Kentucky residents will have to wait a bit longer for a bill that addresses the status of online casinos.
Given huge potential shortfalls in the state budget and the legalization of online casino gambling in neighboring West Virginia and online sports betting in Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois, perhaps there’s a sliver of hope on the horizon.
Kentucky has no land-based casinos. The state has slot-like historical racing machines (also known as instant racing) at most of its pari-mutuel facilities. The machines allow bettors to wager on replays of races that were previously run. The machines are defined as pari-mutuel wagering, not casino gambling (which is illegal), though that definition is being challenged in court.
The first step for Kentucky lawmakers is the passage of a bill that will allow commercial gambling casinos in the state. Casinos that are granted licenses could then pursue online casino gambling. For now, social and sweepstakes casinos are the best alternatives for Kentucky residents who don’t want to travel to neighboring states to gamble. Until online casinos go live, finding offers like NJ online casino bonuses will require residents to travel to another state.
If online casino gambling is approved in Kentucky, online casino apps will play a significant role.
Online casino apps give bettors an unprecedented level of convenience, allowing them to place wagers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from their mobile device anywhere inside the state. The apps are free, available for Android and iOS devices, and can be downloaded from the casino site or the App Store. Any transaction and wager available on your desktop or laptop computer can also be made via online casino app.
The most popular games in states with legal online casino gambling include:
Online Slots: Whether you prefer 3-reel or progressive slots, nearly all of the slot games found at a traditional land based casino are available online. That’s in addition to a selection of new slot titles with 3-D graphics and animation, all specifically designed to fit your smaller screen.
Online Poker: Kentucky is closer to adding online poker than other casino games. The most recent bill that failed in the 2020 House session included a provision for online poker, which has seen a record revenue surge in other states after physical cardrooms were shut down due to the coronavirus.
Lottery: The Kentucky Lottery is already online. Players (18 or older) can create an account, make a deposit and purchase state lottery draw and instant game tickets. Lottery players must have a valid Kentucky address and be located inside the state to play online. Winnings are automatically added to your account.
Roulette: Among the oldest casino games and one of the easiest to play. In online roulette, an electronic random generator is used instead of a physical wheel.
Online Blackjack: The most popular table game whether playing inside at a land based casino or online. The online version offers more varieties of blackjack with lower minimum bets, and you never have to wait for a seat at the table.
Live Dealer: Online table games with an added social element. A live person deals the game from a studio or casino setting, with the action streamed to your computer or mobile device. The live dealer format allows players to chat online with the dealer and other players at the table. Its availability does vary by state and by casino site.
Online casino gambling operators attempt to make deposits and withdrawals as easy and efficient as possible. The most common payment options:
Credit/debit cards: Always a popular and convenient deposit option, but not always the best. Some financial institutions choose not to process gambling transactions, others charge high fees. In addition, most credit/debit cards cannot be used for withdrawals.
Play+/Prepaid cards: Play+ was designed for online gambling and have many advantages. Typically, you can set up an account through a link on your casino site. From there, you can fund the Play+ card with a credit card or bank account, then move the funds into your gaming account. You can withdraw winnings back on to the card and then access the cash at an ATM. Many prepaid cards are available at retail outlets, while others can purchased on the website of your casino operator. Primarily used for deposits, though some can be used for withdrawals.
E-wallets: PayPal is the most widely accepted, with Neteller and Skrill also accepted by several online casino operators. E-wallets allow players to move their money to and from their online account for low fees.
ACH/bank transfer: Digital connection established between your bank account and online casino account makes deposits and withdrawals easy. Deposits are processed quickly, withdrawals generally take longer.
PayNearMe: Deposit-only and cash-only option. Bring money to your Kentucky 7-Eleven, CVS Pharmacy or Family Dollar and a barcode will transfer the funds to your online account.
One advantage of online casino play is the number of online bonus and promotional offers not available to players at land-based casinos. Among them:
Online casino no deposit bonus: A small welcome bonus placed into your account just for signing up, with no deposit required.
Deposit match: Make an initial deposit and your online operator will match up to 100% of that amount. Deposit match bonuses generally include playthrough requirements, meaning you must wager that bonus money a specific number of times before it can be redeemed, usually in increments. As with all bonuses, be sure to read the terms and conditions.
Mobile bonus: A bonus or free wager for trying a specific mobile product.
Reload bonus: Sometimes offered to players whose accounts have been depleted or as an incentive to inactive players.
Free spins: Appealing to slots players, get free play on select slot machines and bank the winnings after meeting the playthrough conditions.
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.
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.
Sports betting and online poker bill is introduced. House bill is approved by committee, but never comes up for vote.
Four sports betting bills are introduced, including one that would regulate online poker and Daily Fantasy Sports wagering. Another bill would allow up to four commercial casinos in the commonwealth, pending local referendums. None gain serious traction.
Kentucky Lottery begins selling tickets online.
State’s racing commission modifies its definition of pari-mutuel wagering to allow slot-like historical racing (instant racing) machines at Kentucky tracks. Kentucky Downs is first to install instant racing terminals the following year.
Commonwealth attempts to close down 140 poker providers by seizing control of their domain names. Most are eventually returned to their rightful owners.
More than 60% of voters approve Kentucky Lottery. First ticket sold the following year.
Inaugural running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Only on pari-mutuel wagering, Daily Fantasy Sports and lottery.
The minimum gambling age in Kentucky is 18 for pari-mutuel wagering and state lottery games.
None. Kentucky does not have an land-based casinos and does not allow casino gambling.
Pari-mutuel wagering, instant racing machines, lottery and Daily Fantasy Sports, which is unregulated. Social casinos are also available.
Online accounts can generally be set up from any state, but bettors would need to be physically located inside Kentucky to legally place a wager. Online casinos use geolocation software to determine where players are located.
Some may be from social or sweepstakes casinos, which are legal and offer free online slots and table games for prizes with no exchange of real money. Other offers may be from offshore-based real-money gambling sites, which operate with little or no regulation and should be avoided.
At the state’s horse racing tracks (Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Ellis Park, Turfway Park, the Red Mile and Oak Grove) and lottery outlets.
Yes. Sports betting is permitted in Kentucky.
To be determined. Several failed sports betting bills assigned regulation to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which already regulates online horse race betting. A 2020 Senate bill would have created a Kentucky Gaming Commission.
Yes, provided the site you are playing on is properly licensed and regulated by the state agency responsible for ensuring that all games are fair and accounts secure.
All gambling winnings are subject to federal and state tax. Kentucky’s withholding rate is 5%.
"More than 30 years working in online gaming and sports journalism. I hope to explain the growing US online casino market to help those new to internet gambling have a better understanding."