Kentucky Online Casinos 2020 - A Guide to Gambling in Kentucky

Kentucky gambling laws are a mishmash of ideologies: on the one hand, the state is home to the most popular horse racing contest in the world, the Kentucky Derby; on the other hand, it has no land-based casinos and does not allow citizens and visitors to play at Kentucky online casinos.

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gambling laws in Kentucky

Kentucky is an eastern state known for bourbon, coal, Kentucky fried chicken and, of course, bluegrass music, which is where the nickname ‘Bluegrass State’ comes from. It’s also famous for hosting the world’s most prestigious horse racing contest, the Kentucky Derby.

Even so, Kentucky gambling laws are quite restrictive: there are zero land-based commercial casinos in the state, and online gambling is all but banned. There are a few exceptions, of course, but the fact that many citizens in the north of the state drive to other states to play their favorite casinos legally gives you an idea of what the real picture is.

Below, we take a more in-depth look at gambling in Kentucky.

The Legality Of Land-Based Casinos & Online Casinos In Kentucky

Kentucky gambling laws are among the strictest in the whole USA, but they can also be confusing, particularly as the state is home to the most well-known and prestigious horse racing contest in the world, the Kentucky Derby. As a rule of thumb, anything which is not related to horse racing is most probably illegal or banned in the Bluegrass State. But let’s take a look at things in some more detail.

The state of Kentucky has no land-based casinos within its perimeter. This includes commercial casinos, tribal casinos, cruise casinos and the lot. For this reason, no casino games can be played for real money, including roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker, pai gow, craps and slots, to mention but a few. Indeed, many citizens of the northern part of the state travel to other states to play there, including to West Virginia, Illinois and Indiana.

The state’s only claim to gambling fame is its horse racing betting scene. At the time of writing, the Bluegrass State is home to six racetracks, namely Keeneland and The Red Mile in Lexington, Turfway Park in Florence, Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky Downs in Franklin, and, of course, Churchill Downs in Louisville where the Kentucky Derby takes place. Betting on horse races here, as well as pari-mutuel wagering on said horse racing, is completely legal and can be practiced by anyone who is 18 or over even online.

Apart from that, the state allows raffles and bingo to take place given they are for charitable reasons or house-based. Oh, and it also has a state lottery, which is affiliated with Mega Millions and the Powerball. There are also scratch cards.

The rest as stated above is banned or illegal. Kentucky does not allow any sports betting to take place in the state and the many Bills that tried to legalize it have failed. Earlier this year, however, during Governor Andy Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth, it was said that there is a ‘commitment to the future’ in which the Bluegrass State would have new revenue streams. This ‘commitment’ also included a Bill by Representative Adam Koenig that could see online poker and Daily Fantasy Sports being legalized. Even so, at the time of writing, these are still banned.

When it comes to online gambling, it’s once again a mixture of legal and illegal. Kentuckers can make bets on horse racing contests and pari-mutuel wagering, as well take part in lotteries, online but everything else is not permitted. Like many other states, however, Kentucky’s statute does not specifically mention Kentucky online casinos, making people believe that playing at offshore casinos okay.

Even so, this doesn’t change the fact that in a state that is as strict in its gambling laws as the Bluegrass State, gambling online is a big no-no.

Land-Based Gambling In Kentucky Today

Due to gambling laws in Kentucky, the Bluegrass State has no land-based, commercial casinos. Nevertheless, those who live in the north of the state sometime venture to other US states to play their favorite casino games. Below we list some of the most popular casinos in the states that border Kentucky.

County & State
Other Information
Legal Age

Hollywood Casino & Hotel Joliet

Joliet, Illinois

1,000 + slots and video poker machines
18 table games for blackjack, craps, roulette and more. Sportsbook.
Regular promotions.


Grand Victoria Casino

Elgin, Illinois

29 tables for blackjack, craps, roulette, three-card poker, Mississippi Stud, high-card flush and baccarat.
Over 1,100 slot machines.
Live poker with over 10 tables.


Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races

Charles Town, West Virginia

2,200 of the hottest slots.
74 action-packed table games.
16-table poker room.
24/7 no-limit action and tournaments.


Mardi Gras Casino & Resort

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

1,000 slots.
More than 20 live table games.
Live poker. Greyhound racing. Sportsbook.


Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Shelbyville, Indiana

2200 Slots,
40 live table games, e-table games.
A sportsbook.
Race betting.



Online Gambling Laws In Kentucky

kentucky gambling lawsGambling laws in Kentucky do not allow online casinos to operate from within the state’s parameters. Sadly, because the Bluegrass State neither regulates nor approves Kentucky online casinos, this means that Kentuckers cannot play their favorite casino games for real money online, a law which extends to roulette, poker, blackjack, baccarat, slots and so on, as well as their live-dealer versions.

Kentucky gambling laws also prohibit brick-and-mortar casinos from opening or operating from within the state, and there are a total of zero such establishments. For this reason, the only ways Kentuckers can play casino games are either in real-life within the confines of their homes, or else online through social gambling websites.

It’s important to note, however, that social gambling refers to playing without wagering or betting any money. Betting real money on online casino games in Kentucky would be against the law as the Bluegrass statutes define gambling as ‘staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest or game based upon an element of chance’ (Kentucky Revised Statues 528.010, et seq.) and this is illegal to do in most cases.

The only exceptions to this are the state lottery, and betting and pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing. The sites where Kentuckers can take part in these are the state-approved lotteries sites, and Churchill Downs’ site for pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, which includes simulcast.

While many lawmakers have tried to open up new opportunities for those looking to gamble at Kentucky online casinos, for the time being, this simply isn’t an option.

What should I know about Online Casinos in Kentucky?

  • The state of Kentucky has some of the strictest laws in the whole USA. Indeed, the state has zero land-based, commercial casinos and zero online casinos.
  • Kentucky gambling laws, however, allow a few methods of gambling to take place, including betting on horse racing contents, pari-mutuel wagering on said horse racing contests, and the state lottery. All of this can also be done online on their respective websites, which are completely legal.
  • Social gambling is totally legal in the Bluegrass state. This can either be done at home with friends or online on a number of dedicated websites or apps. The important thing to remember when playing online, however, is that it is illegal to wager any real money when playing your favorite casino games.
  • While there is currently a Bill to legalize online poker and Daily Fantasy Sport, many such Bills have failed to make any lasting effects in the past. So, until the official news that such a Bill has passed, the laws remain unchanged.
  • The Kentucky gambling age for lottery and race betting is 18 or over.

Gambling Laws Governing Offshore Casinos & What It Means For Kentucky Players

Because gambling laws in Kentucky are so strict when it comes to Kentucky online casinos, some players may decide to play online for real money by ‘bypassing’ the law and playing at offshore-registered casinos. For those who are not acquainted with the concept of offshore casinos, these are casino websites that are registered and regulated in other jurisdictions. These may be within the USA itself or other gambling-friendly places, like Malta, Gibraltar, the UK or Curaçao.

There are a number of issues with this, however. On top of this not really being a way of bypassing the law – the law stands whether you are playing at an online casino illegally operating from within Kentucky and also from online casinos operating legally from outside the Bluegrass State – you may also be putting yourself in a tricky situation should a dispute arise. Different jurisdictions have different laws that you may not be used to, meaning that you, your money, your rights and your data could be in danger. Since these casinos are registered outside of Kentucky, this would most probably also leave the state helpless to help you should something go wrong.

For this reason, we do not recommend that you play at any offshore-registered casinos while in Kentucky, and to ignore any advice to do so by websites that promote it. The law, while it may not be favorable to those looking to play at Kentucky online casinos, should always be followed.

Online Casino Games For Kentucky

Since Kentucky online casinos are banned by the state, then there are no online casino games that can be played for real money online. Kentuckers also can’t play casino games at any brick-and-mortar establishments since there are also banned. The only way to play casino games in the Bluegrass State is either in your home (not over the internet) or on social casinos for no money.

Daily Fantasy Sports and sports betting are also illegal in Kentucky, but Kentuckers can dabble in horse racing bets, pari-mutuel wagering on horse races, and play the lottery online.

Payment Options At Kentucky Online Casinos

Unfortunately, the answer to this is that there are no payment options available since Kentucky gambling laws ban playing for real money at online casinos. Nevertheless, if you are out of the Bluegrass State and in a jurisdiction that allows you to gamble online, then we recommend checking the information section of your online casino website of choice to see which payment options and currencies are accepted. If the ones you find aren’t the right ones for you, look for reputable ones that have what you are after.

Kentucky Online Casinos FAQs

Is online gambling legal in Kentucky?

Yes, if you’re after pari-mutuel wagering on horse races, betting on horse racing or the lottery; but no, if you’re looking to play your favorite casino games at Kentucky online casino. Indeed, the law in Kentucky is very clear about its citizens and visitors playing casino games for real money – and the current definition of gambling can easily be extended to include online casino games. Having said that, the state does allow Kentuckers and visitors to the Bluegrass State to play at social gambling websites (i.e. for no money).

Can I play at an online casino in Kentucky via mobile or tablet?

Not for real money, unfortunately. The only forms of gambling you can dabble in on your mobile device, be it a cell phone, a laptop or a tablet, are betting on horse races, pari-mutuel wagering (including simulcast) on horse racing, and the state lottery. You are totally free to play your favorite casino games for no money at social gambling websites and dedicated apps through your mobile device, though.

What casino games can I play at Kentucky online casinos?

None as the state has not legalized Kentucky online casinos at the time of writing. The only way to play casino games is for no money on social casino providers. There are numerous available, as well as dedicated apps and Facebook apps. The important thing to remember is that you cannot bet any real money on the games, otherwise you’d be breaking the law.

Is it possible to play online casino games with dollars?

No actual or virtual currency can be used to play at Kentucky online casino. Indeed, the gambling laws in Kentucky make it very clear that all forms of gambling bar a small number mentioned above are illegal. Nevertheless, if you are in a jurisdiction that allows you to gamble online legally, then do check the information page on the website of your online casino of choice to make sure you’re happy with the payment options available and the currencies that are accepted.

Are the Kentucky online casinos on this site regulated?

All casinos mentioned on this site are legal, regulated and have all the measures in place to protect you, your money, your data and your rights. Having said that, since both Kentucky online casinos and brick-and-mortar casinos are banned in the Bluegrass State, we only mention land-based casinos located in states near north Kentucky, social gambling sites, and state-approved lottery and horse race betting websites.

Am I eligible to receive an online casino bonus at a Kentucky Casino?

No bonus can be claimed in the Bluegrass State since the gambling laws in Kentucky ban such activities. Nevertheless, if you are in a place where online gambling is legal, then we recommend shopping around for the best online casino bonus you can get your hands on. Always remember to read the fine print, though, as not all that glitters is gold when it comes to online casino bonuses.

How do I start playing for real money at a Kentucky online casino?

Sadly, there is no way of doing so in the state of Kentucky. The only thing you can do to play your favorite casino games – including roulette, poker, slots, baccarat, craps and blackjack – is to go on social casino sites which do not expect you to wager any real money.

Which online casino payment options are popular in Kentucky?

We have no information with regards to this since Kentucky online casinos are banned. In other states where online casino gambling is legal, however, you can often pay via debit or credit card, eWallet systems like PayPal, and direct bank transfers, among other payment methods. Our advice to those who are playing in a jurisdiction that allows them to do so is to always check the terms and conditions of the online casino before joining to ensure that the payment methods and currencies accepted fit their needs.

Do I need to pay taxes on my gambling winnings in Kentucky?

Yes, gambling winnings need to be reported to the state. As of 2019, players pay tax on their net income from gambling, not gross, which means that they can deduct their losses from the winnings and only pay tax on the latter.

Stay safe and follow the law when looking to play at Kentucky Online Casinos!

We hope this has answered all your questions regarding the gambling laws in Kentucky and Kentucky online casinos. As always, do be sure to follow the law of the jurisdiction you are in and to never wager more money than you can afford to lose. With that in mind, good luck!