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, horse racing is where the Bluegrass State draws the line when it comes to sports gambling. In fact, Kentucky is one of the most restrictive of US states when it comes to any form of gambling.


Is it legal to bet on sports in Kentucky?

Pari-mutuel betting on horse racing is the only form of legal sports betting in Kentucky right now, though an effort the legalize full-scale sports betting in the state is currently underway. Lawmakers are actively researching the topic of sports betting and two sports betting bills have been pre-filed for the 2019 legislative session.


The first bill, BR15, was filed on 7 September 2018 and calls for the Kentucky Lottery Corporation to implement a sports wagering system, amending existing legislation to permit betting on college and professional sporting events. The bill also calls for sports wagering to be permitted at “lottery retailers, horse racing tracks and simulcast facilities.”

Filed two months later on 9 November 2018, the second bill, BR320, attempts to define the terms “amateur athletics,” “collegiate sports contest,” “commission,” “principal,” “professional sports contest,” “sports wager,” and “sports wagering.” On top of this, the bill calls for the creation of the Kentucky Gaming Commission to oversee sports betting in the state. If this new bill were to pass, there would also be an excise tax of 25% on sports betting receipts.


Where will I be able to place bets on sporting events in Kentucky?

It is not yet clear where bettors will be able to place wagers on sporting events if sports betting is legalized. Judging by the proposed legislation in sports betting bill BR15, sports wagers could be accepted at the state’s racetracks, lottery retailers and even simulcast facilities. At the moment, Kentucky residents and visitors can place wagers on horse racing events at several of the state’s race tracks and online through the Twin Spires website, operated by Churchill Downs.

There are six race tracks across the state of Kentucky.

Racetrack Location Special Event Contact Email Opening Hours
Churchill Downs 700 Central Ave, Louisville, KY 40208, USA The Kentucky Derby +1 502-636-4400 Online form Monday 11:30am – 8pm
Tuesday -Closed

Wednesday 11:30am – 6:15pm

Thursday 11:30am – 8pm

Friday 11:30am – 10:30pm

Saturday – Sunday 11:30am – 10pm

Keeneland 4201 Versailles Rd, Lexington, KY 40510, USA Blue Grass Stakes +1 859-254-3412 Online form Gates open at 11am
Kentucky Downs 5629 Nashville Rd, Franklin, KY 42134, USA Kentucky Turf Cup +1 270-586-7778 Online form Sunday – Thursday 10am to 2am

Friday- Saturday 10am to 4am

Turfway Park 7500 Turfway Rd, Florence, KY 41042, USA JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes +1 800-733-0200 Online form Monday – Tuesday closed
Wednesday – Thursday – 11:15am – 8pm

Friday – Saturday 11:15am – 10pm

Sunday – 11:15am – 8pm

Ellis Park 3300 US-41, Henderson, KY 42420, USA Gardenia Stakes +1 812-425-1456 Not available Sunday – Thursday
10am to 2am

Friday- Saturday
10am to 4am

The Red Mile 1200 Red Mile Rd, Lexington, KY 40504, USA The Grand Circuit +1 859-255-0752 info@theredmile.com Sunday – Thursday 10am to 2am

Friday- Saturday 10am to 4am


What sports will I be able to bet on?


The proposed sports betting bills do not specify which sports residents will be able to bet on, but they do both make reference to professional and collegiate sporting events. In the event that sports betting is legalized in Kentucky, it is likely that wagering on professional and college sports will be permitted. However, if the state follows the example of other US states, like New Jersey, it’s unlikely that residents will be able to bet on events involving local college teams.


What else can I bet on in Kentucky?


Kentucky is very restrictive in its gambling offerings, 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.

While the state’s existing laws do not specifically mention the legality of online gambling, the strict nature of Kentucky’s gambling laws suggests it’s treated the same as land-based gambling. The only forms of legal online gambling in Kentucky are: online betting on horse racing, playing lottery games online and online fantasy sports games.


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.


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. However, it’s also up to bettors to gamble responsibly so that betting remains fun and safe. 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.

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.

It is important to remember that Kentucky sports betting is yet to be legalized and that lawmakers are currently discussing the prospect of legalizing the activity, so make sure to check back with us for updates on legal sports betting in Kentucky.