Kentucky Gambling Laws + Statutes
As a legendary state for pari-mutuel betting, Kentucky gambling laws are more relaxed than some, but there are still a few important items to note.
For the most part, Kentucky state laws happen to fall right in line with Federal law, which dictates that the act of gambling is not illegal for any US residents, only its facilitation. This means that, in accordance with major acts passed through the US Senate like the Federal Wire Act and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a US citizen can legally place a bet on a sport or game of chance, but the person who takes their bet could be legally prosecuted.
Although the situation in Kentucky appears to be clean-cut and straightforward, it always pays to be as educated as possible.
This goal of this website is to educate prospective gamblers and bettors in Kentucky as to their specific rights and restrictions when it comes to their ability to gamble. There is a lot of confusing and contradictory legal information out there when it comes to gambling laws in Kentucky, and it’s our sincere hope that residents can leave our page feeling a little more empowered and clear as to how they can go about responsibly enjoying a gambling hobby.
The Legality of Gambling in Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky falls very cleanly in line with the federal laws that dictate gambling. Even though within state legislation section 528.010 chapter 3, section (a), gambling is defined in very broad, specific terms as venturing anything of value based on the results of any game of chance, no punishment for the action is defined.
On the other hand, if Kentucky law finds a resident guilty of “advancing gambling activity,” they can face incredibly steep penalties, including a felony charge and prison time.
Gambling vs. “Advancing Gambling Activity”
If a Kentucky residents wishes to gamble while avoiding steep legal penalties, the distinction between gambling, which is not prosecuted under Kentucky Law and “advancing gambling activity,” is simple. A resident may not facilitate any gambling. Just as with Federal Law, a resident of Kentucky may place a bet or wager on any game of skill or chance and be safe from state law, however, the person who takes their wager or hosts the game would be susceptible to steep penalties in accordance with both Federal and Kentucky law.
If there is any confusion as to what the law means by advancing gambling activity, perhaps the most important distinction to make is what Kentucky law defines as “profiting from gambling activity,” which is often the most important distinction when a court is determining whether or not a Kentucky resident is guilty of advancing gambling activity. A resident can be found to be profiting from gambling when, in any way other than as a player, they profit off of a gambling activity. Examples can include charging admission to any gambling games, collecting a “rake” (a percentage of the collected total of wagers on each turn) or owning a slot machine in which you collect the profits that are not paid out.
Betting Laws In Kentucky
While unlike some states who specifically define sports betting, for Kentucky residents, sports betting falls directly under the definition of gambling. While Kentucky gambling laws say nothing about residents who merely wish to place a bet on any sports events, the act of taking bets from others or “bookmaking” as defined by Kentucky law carries steep legal penalties. Anyone in Kentucky found guilty of bookmaking will be brought up on felony charges and face serious prison time.
There is one act that Kentucky state law provides a special exemption to for all definitions of gambling: pari-mutuel betting. Horse-racing, and betting on horse races, is intimately tied to the culture of Kentucky, and therefore gambling machines which allow the purchase of horse racing tickets are legal so long as they are at state licensed, regular race tracks. This allows all Kentucky residents to wager on horse racing which helps makes the Kentucky derby one of the most eagerly anticipated events every calendar year.
The Kentucky state laws come down hard on those who facilitate gambling and leave no openings for a potential state certification for slots or games of chance. This leads to no legal wiggle room for anyone who would be found guilty of advancing any casino games, and a swift legal punishment would surely be handed down. Although, like in all cases, there is no law forbidding Kentucky residents from participating in casino gambling, there are no reputable, land based avenues to take advantage of this fact found within Kentucky state borders.
When it comes to poker, Kentucky seems to include an odd caveat where poker games can slide through Kentucky gambling laws as a loophole. The definition of “gambling” within the state legislature takes the time to point out that wagers related on the outcome of games of skill are exempt from the definition. When it comes to poker specifically, the state laws are oddly mum on the subject. While the law seems to leave an opening for legal poker games to slide through, there is not a wide selection of land based poker rooms open to Kentucky residents.
Legal Gambling Age In Kentucky
One sure fire way to introduce unnecessary legal complications into the already complicated subject of legal gambling is for a player to take part in any form of wagering before they are of an appropriate age. Fortunately for Kentucky residents, the legal gambling age in Kentucky is only 18 as opposed to most states where it is 21. This means that as soon as a Kentucky resident is old enough to access legal race tracks and online gambling sites, they will be allowed to gamble in the eyes of Kentucky law.
If a Kentucky resident is caught gambling underage it can lead not only to a stiff legal fine, but the institution through which they are placing bets is likely to impose some sort of punishment on the player, usually a lifetime ban and the forfeit of any funds (including winnings) associated with wagering.
Is Online Gambling Legal In Kentucky?
Over the course of this entire page we have been discussing the fact that while the law does not prohibit gambling, it does in fact stop anyone from facilitating gambling. This may seem like a catch-22 until one remembers the internet. Kentucky residents are perfectly within their rights to gamble online, and since legal gambling sites are all based overseas they fall well outside the jurisdiction of any Kentucky state or federal laws.
While many of these sites are closed to US citizens, there is an entire slew of legal gambling sites for Kentucky residents that are readily available at any point for wagering on sports, games of chance, skill, or even horse races.
Where To Gamble In Kentucky
On-Land: For a state where the gambling laws are as permissive as they are, Kentucky has a strange lack of any real land-based place to take advantage of them. Of course, there are several state-licensed tracks that residents may take advantage of to bet on races, but there are no traditional casinos or poker rooms to be found in the state of Kentucky.
Of course, if a player wishes to play poker in the privacy of their own home amongst friends, they are perfectly within their rights. Unlike some other states in the union, Kentucky does not impose any sort of cap on bets or wagers to be placed in a friendly game, so as long as the game remains private, the stakes can legally climb as high as the players wish. (However, it should be noted that high stakes poker games among friends are a good way to lose friends.) The only legal distinction one should avoid when hosting a poker game is to ensure that they are not “profiting from gambling” as defined above. So long as the host of the game does not charge admission for the privilege to play or collects any sort of a “rake from the pots", they should be able to avoid legal trouble.
Online/Web-Based: Fortunately for Kentucky residents, there are several fantastic, legal gambling sites for Kentucky residents that are based overseas. Many of these legitimate businesses have been in operation for over a decade, and in that time have earned the love and acclaim of not only countless loyal customers who hold accounts with them, but they have racked up endorsements from major media giants who are very active in the forefront of pop culture in the United States. Corporations like ESPN and CNBC endorse these gambling sites, and the surest bet one can make is that these endorsements are not earned easily, or overnight. The kind of loyalty these companies inspire can only come from years and years of dedicated service, and that’s just what any Kentucky residents who signs up for any of the sites listed here will get.
Best Legal Gambling Site For Kentucky Residents
Bovada - Best Place To Bet On Horse Racing In Kentucky
No matter the need any Kentucky residents needs filled by an online gambling site, Bovada has the means to pull it off. After being in operation for over 20 years, the very Bovada name has becomes synonymous with online gambling. Their huge network encompasses the very best online sportsbook, casino, and poker room for Kentucky residents.
The best part of being a Bovada member for Kentucky residents is how convenient it is to use their site. No legal online sportsbook, casino, or poker room offers as safe or fast methods of deposit or withdrawal into their gambling accounts. For deposits, users can take advantage of their VISA card to fund their account safely in a matter of second, and Bovada will even go so far as to cover all fees associated with one payout a month. That means for up to twelve times a year, Kentucky residents can have a check with their winnings waiting in their mailbox at no additional cost.
Other Recommended Kentucky Betting Sites
Disclaimer - How To Get More Help
We here at KentuckyGamblingLaws.com are not lawyers. We are merely passionate about the subject of legal gambling and wish to spread as much information on the subject as possible. While we are confident that all the information on this page is accurate and well researched, we cannot offer official legal counsel, especially on a subject as liquid as Kentucky gambling legislation. If you would like more information on the subject, we recommend checking with Kentucky’s official legislature at www.lrc.ky.gov. Check that page as well as this one often, especially as new bills related to Kentucky gambling laws continue to be brought up in court.