Kentucky Betting Laws

In horse racing the favorites don’t always win. It’s fitting then, that the spiritual home of racing failed to pass its sports betting bill in 2020, despite legalization looking like a certainty. 

The Bluegrass State, which has a population of 4.6million (2020 data), is prime real estate for sportsbook operators. It’s the home of one of the world’s most famous horse races in the Kentucky Derby, run annually at the iconic Churchill Downs racetrack. But while horse racing is a big thing locally, there are no other professional sports franchises in Kentucky.

Sports betting legislation had a near miss in 2020, but it’s set for a swift return to center stage in 2021, with a new bill.

Is sports betting legal in Kentucky?

Sports betting is not legal in the state of Kentucky yet, with advocates set to try again in 2021 after their bill faltered in 2020, due to COVID.

Republican Adam Koenig – who put forward that 2020 bill which attracted so much support – will try again with a new bill in 2021. He says his bill will bring in $22million in tax revenues annually, and cut down on what he says is $2billion in illegal bets placed by Kentuckyians each year.

Legal sports betting near Kentucky

With Kentucky out of the picture right now, you’ll need to travel out of state to bet legally on sports. Remember, the law is about location, not residency.

Your best options in neighboring states are:

  • Indiana: A state with both land-based sportsbooks and online and mobile options. Once again, the legal age to bet is 21 or older. Better still, Louisville sits right on the state line, so it’s the most convenient betting state for many Kentuckians.
  • Illinois: A six-hour drive from Kentucky, and with betting options as soon as you cross the state line. You can bet at retail sites or online and mobile. Legal age is 21.
  • West Virginia: Another state with land-based sites and online/mobile solutions. Again you just need to be in-state and 21 years of age or older.
  • Virginia: Went live in early 2021, with FanDuel straight up and running online and mobile thanks to a partnership with the Washington Football Team. Legal age is 21.
  • Tennessee: Went live with online and mobile betting in November 2020. Yet again you need to be aged 21 or older to place a bet.

Are offshore sportsbooks legal in Kentucky?

So offshore sportsbooks, with their smart marketing speak, may claim to be totally legal. But they have no license to operate in the state of Kentucky or accept bets from residents.

We advise you not to be tempted by the sign-up offers and instead stay safe by looking for legal options closer to home, especially Indiana.

It’s important to note that you have no consumer protection if you do bet with offshore sportsbook.