Kentucky has long been known as the heart of the horse racing industry in the United States. A rich history of breeding and racing horses has made the state a hotbed of activity in the horse racing world for decades. The highlight of the horse racing year in the USA takes place in Kentucky of course with the running of the Kentucky Derby. The state is also well-known for its love of sports, and there is a great appetite for gambling as a result. This page will take a look at all forms of gambling in Kentucky and what are the best gambling options for residents.
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Sports Betting in Kentucky
Yes, we know that you probably expected us to start by talking about betting on horses in Kentucky on this page. However, with the changing laws around sports betting in the United States over the last few months, we thought it was more important to discuss the potential in this state. Kentucky has a rich history of collegiate sports, and the University of Kentucky in particular has a following that extends far outside the state borders. While there is no legislation yet, there have been rumblings at the government level that sports betting is exactly what Kentucky needs to prop up the horse racing industry which has seen its fair share of downswings over the years.
Online Sports Betting
Fortunately for folks in Kentucky who want to bet on sports today, there are still many options available in the online sportsbook world. Online sportsbooks have been operating from outside the United States for almost two decades, and during that time billions of dollars have been bet by residents of Kentucky on the outcome of professional and amateur sports alike. While there is still some trepidation regarding the safety of betting with an online sportsbook (we have all heard the horror stories), there are many legitimate businesses open to Kentucky players.
We perform extensive reviews of all the online betting sites that are open to American players, and the sites that have made this list are the cream of the crop. These sportsbooks offer players tons of options when it comes to making deposits (which is getting much more difficult these days) as well as speedy withdrawal times. As many of the online sportsbooks on this list have been in business for over a decade, we feel very comfortable in the integrity of these companies. They simply wouldn’t still be in business if they were screwing players.
We look at online sportsbooks from all angles, including customer service, mobile compatibility, promotions and marketing, and bet selection. The result of this in-depth review process is that we can highly recommend the sportsbooks on this page.
Horse Betting in Kentucky
Ok, now let’s turn our attention to horse racing. To say that Kentucky is the gold standard for horse racing in the United States would be an understatement. The single largest and most famous horse race in the world takes place in the state, and the annual Kentucky Derby has become one of the most popular events on the planet. Just take a look at all the fascinators and seersucker suits that are rolled out the first weekend of May, and you will see what we mean.
The horse racing industry runs much deeper than the Derby in the state, as there are multiple tracks running races on a daily basis. Churchill Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby, is far and away the most well-known track in the state, and it offers thoroughbred racing throughout the year, with a significant amount of betting happening at the revered track. Among the other tracks in Kentucky, one of particular note is Keeneland. Not only does this track run races of its own, but it is also the host of the annual yearling auction. The world’s elite descend on Keeneland to bid on young horses looking for the investment that will turn into the next Triple Crown winner. The event is amazing to experience for those lucky enough to be in the room.
There are a handful of other tracks in Kentucky, and at each of these facilities, gamblers can bet on races from across the state and the country via simulcast.
Online Horse Betting
With all the land-based horse racing action in Kentucky, it is no shock that residents are also looking for places to make bets online. Companies like the Daily Racing Form, Churchill Downs, and TVG, all of whom have a vested interest in the space, operate online horse betting sites. These sites are all open to residents of Kentucky, and with them, you are only a few clicks away from betting on your favorite tracks or jockeys.
Casino Gambling in Kentucky
This may come as a shock to people reading this, but even though horse racing and betting is so prevalent in Kentucky, there are no land-based casinos in the state. This is a pretty conservative approach for the state government to take. At this stage, it would make a lot of sense to help the tracks by opening casinos alongside. However, there are no plans in the works to make that a reality.
There are some slot-style games that are based on historical horse races that are available for play at a handful of facilities in the state. While this isn’t exactly the same as playing slots, it does provide some entertainment for those who are interested.
Online Casinos in Kentucky
With no land-based casinos in the state, someone living in Kentucky is faced with a couple of options if they want to play table games or slots. The first is to travel to a neighboring state and enter a land-based casino there. This is fine for people who live relatively close to any of these facilities, but it is still relatively inconvenient. The other option is to choose to play at any of the many online casinos that are open to Kentucky residents. Despite the state’s attempts in the past to block these sites from operating in the state, there are dozens of online casinos that are only too happy to take deposits and play from Kentuckians. We spend a lot of time reviewing these sites, and from our research, we have compiled the list of recommended online casinos for players in Kentucky.
The online casinos on this list best exemplify everything that is good about the industry. From using some of the best software available to U.S. players to highly trained customer service teams available at the click of a button, all these casinos are built with the player experience in mind.
We look at these sites from many angles, but these days one of the most important factors that go into our recommendations is how well an online casino is represented on a mobile device. While there are no native app casinos for iOS or Android, these casinos all have HTML5 mobile web versions that allow you to access your favorite table games and slots from anywhere you have a signal. We are sure that you will love what you see if you choose to play with any of these recommended sites, but we also have a full review section where you can see other options available for play.
Lottery in Kentucky
Kentucky has a state lottery that has been around since 1989. Since then, the proceeds from these lottery games have gone back into education programs and other social causes in the state. The state operates the lottery, and they are part of the national lottery alliance that has created the massive Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots you have likely seen on the news recently. While those draws receive the lion’s share of the attention, there are plenty of other state-level draw games for Kentucky players, along with instant-win scratch tickets that range in price from $1 to as high as $30 a ticket.
Kentucky Gambling FAQ
Is sports betting legal in Kentucky?
No, currently sports betting is not legal in the state, despite the love of horse racing and legal betting on that product. There had been a law in place banning all forms of sports betting in the state (and all states aside from Nevada), but that law was repealed in May of 2018, opening the door for states to decide on their own if they want to offer it to residents. For now, Kentucky sports bettors can select from one of the online sportsbooks open to U.S. players. We recommended some of our favorites earlier on this page.
When will sports betting be legal in Kentucky?
We think that Kentucky is going to be one of the next states to pass legislation to being legal sports betting to its residents. This is most likely to occur in 2019, and many industry experts believe that we will see the first legal sports bet in Kentucky before the fall of 2019.
What is the best online sportsbook for residents of Kentucky?
We recommended a bunch of great online sportsbooks earlier on this page but is worth repeating that every sports bettor is looking for something slightly different from their online betting experience. In general, the best sites are those that offer the widest array of sports to bet on from around the world, including all the local action that anyone from Kentucky could want. We think the best online sportsbooks are those that reward their most loyal players, which means there is a reason to stay gambling with them for as long as possible. Sites like those we recommend on this page have the pedigree and knowledge in the space to be considered the top online sportsbooks open to players from Kentucky and the rest of the United States.