Kentucky’s Gambling Future: USA News Updates and Kentucky Launch Status

Kentucky USA gambling news

Gambling is a popular and lucrative activity in the United States, where many states have legalized various forms of gambling, such as casinos, sports betting, lotteries, and online gaming. 

However, not all states have embraced gambling equally; some have stricter regulations and prohibitions than others. One of these states is Kentucky, which has a long history of horse racing but a limited scope of other gambling options.

The Current State of Gambling in Kentucky

Kentucky is known for its horse racing industry, which dates back to the late 18th century and hosts the famous Kentucky Derby yearly. The state allows pari-mutuel wagering on horse races at the tracks and through licensed online platforms. 

The state also has a lottery, which was established in 1989 and offers various games, including scratch-offs, draw games, and multi-state jackpots. The lottery also operates online, allowing players to buy tickets and play instant games on its website and app.

However, Kentucky has no full-fledged casinos, and only charitable games are permitted. The state defines gambling as staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest, game, gaming scheme, or gaming device, which is based upon an element of chance in accord with an agreement or understanding that someone will receive something of value in the event of an inevitable outcome. 

This definition excludes pari-mutuel wagering, lottery, and charitable gaming but includes most other forms of gambling, such as casino games, poker, sports betting, and fantasy sports. The state penalizes anyone who engages in illegal gambling or operates a gambling device with fines and imprisonment.

Kentucky has entered a new era of sports betting, and the opportunities for sports fans have never been more promising. Many sportsbooks have eagerly embraced the Bluegrass State, offering bonuses and sign-up perks to entice Kentucky citizens to join.

Sports enthusiasts in Kentucky now have the chance to amplify their betting experiences through various exciting promotions. One such opportunity is the BetMGM Kentucky bonus code, a gateway to enhanced enjoyment and potentially more significant winnings as they embark on their betting journey.

The Recent Developments and Challenges in the Legislative and Judicial Arenas

Despite the lack of casinos and other gambling options, Kentucky has seen several attempts and proposals to expand its gambling industry in recent years. One of the most notable efforts was the legalization of sports betting, which gained momentum after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports wagering in 2018. 

Several bills were introduced in the state legislature to authorize and regulate sports betting, both in-person and online, at horse racing tracks and other venues. The most recent bill, House Bill 551, was passed by the House and the Senate in March 2023 and signed by Governor Andy Beshear in April 2023. 

The bill allows each licensed facility to operate a retail sportsbook and an online application, with a tax rate of 10.25% for in-person bets and 14.25% for online bets. The bill also creates a new fund to combat problem gambling and allocates a portion of the tax revenue to the horse racing industry and the general fund. The state expects to launch sports betting by fall 2023, joining most neighboring states offering sports wagering.


Another area of contention and litigation in Kentucky is the status of historical horse racing machines, which are electronic devices that allow players to bet on the outcomes of previously run horse races. These machines resemble slot machines and offer various themes and features but are considered pari-mutuel wagering under state law. 

The machines have been operating at several racetracks and off-track betting facilities since 2011, generating millions in revenue for the operators and the state. However, the machines have also faced legal challenges from anti-gambling groups and the Family Foundation of Kentucky, which argued that the devices are illegal and do not meet the criteria of pari-mutuel wagering. 

In September 2020, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the machines did not constitute pari-mutuel wagering and ordered the state to stop issuing machine licenses. The ruling threatened to shut down the machines and jeopardize the horse racing industry, which relies on the devices for funding and purses. 

In response, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 120 in February 2023, which amended the definition of pari-mutuel wagering to include historical horse racing machines and effectively legalized the machines. Governor Beshear signed the bill into law in March 2023, allowing the machines to continue operating.

The Potential Future Scenarios for the Expansion of Gambling in Kentucky

While sports betting and historical horse racing machines have been legalized in Kentucky, other forms of gambling remain prohibited or unregulated in the state. These include casino games, poker, fantasy sports, and online gaming.

However, there are some indications and possibilities that these forms of gambling may be introduced or expanded in the future, depending on political, economic, and social factors.

One of the most anticipated and debated forms of gambling in Kentucky is casino gaming, which has been proposed and rejected several times. The main arguments in favor of casino gaming are the potential economic benefits, such as job creation, tax revenue, tourism, and investment, as well as the reduction of gambling leakage to neighboring states with casinos. 

The main arguments against casino gaming are the moral and social costs, such as addiction, crime, corruption, family breakdown, and the negative impact on the horse racing industry. 

The casino gaming supporters include Governor Beshear, who has advocated for a constitutional amendment to allow casino gaming in the state, and some horse racing tracks, which have expressed interest in hosting casino games. 

The opponents of casino gaming include the Family Foundation of Kentucky, which has campaigned against gambling expansion, and some religious and conservative groups, which have moral and ethical objections to gambling. 

The prospects of casino gaming in Kentucky depend primarily on public opinion and political will, as well as the legal and constitutional hurdles, which require a supermajority vote in the legislature and a referendum by the voters.

Online gaming is a form of gambling that has been gaining popularity and acceptance in the U.S., including online casino games, poker, and lottery. Online gaming is legal and regulated in a few states, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Michigan. It has generated significant revenue and growth for the operators and the states. 

Online gaming is also convenient and accessible for players, who can enjoy various games from their homes or mobile devices. However, online gaming faces challenges and risks like cybersecurity, fraud, underage gambling, and problem gambling. Online gaming is currently illegal in Kentucky, except for online pari-mutuel wagering and online lottery, which are authorized and regulated by the state. 


The state has legalized some forms of gambling, such as horse racing, lottery, sports betting, and historical horse racing machines. Still, it has prohibited or ignored other forms of gambling, such as casino games, poker, fantasy sports, and online gaming. 

The state has also faced some challenges and opportunities in the legislative and judicial arenas, where various bills and lawsuits have been introduced and decided, affecting the fate and direction of gambling in the state. The state also has some potential and scenarios for the expansion of gambling in the future, depending on the political, economic, and social factors that influence the gambling industry and public opinion.

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