When it comes to betting on sports in Kentucky, you would definitely assume that it’s legal because it’s home to the most famous horse race in the world; the Kentucky Derby. Well, sadly, it’s not that simple. Yes, wagering on horses is legal, but other varieties of sports betting are not.
From what we know after doing some extensive research is that Kentucky was on the up and up to join the growing number of states to legalize sports betting in 2020. However, when the pandemic struck the US in March, it put a complete stop to the bill that Governor Andy Beshear endorsed. When the House session ended, it left Kentucky gambling on the table to fizzle out.
Yes and no.
Yes, you are able to wager on horse races, both in-person at the race tracks and online via Twin Pines Casino. However, no other sports gambling is legal in the Bluegrass State. Because a majority of sports betting isn’t legal in Kentucky, visiting neighboring states will have to suffice until sports wagering is a regulated industry. For now, Kentuckians can visit West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, and Tennessee to scratch their sports betting itch.
Since there is continued support to legalize sports betting from legislators and residents alike, it is very possible that new bills will be submitted for approval moving into 2022.
It is a well-known fact that Kentucky is conflicted when it comes to what is and what isn’t allowed regarding gambling laws. Horse racing (pari-mutuel) has a very famous and long history in Kentucky. In fact, you could even say that it’s built into the genes of people born in the Bluegrass State.
As we’ve mentioned, Pari-mutuel racing is fully legal and allowed along with the state lottery and high stakes bingo in designated bingo halls. However, land-based and online casinos are not legal to operate within the confines of the Kentucky borders. Sports betting isn’t regulated by the state, and some would even say that sports betting isn’t not legal. But, the tables are about to turn, which will change the status of gambling laws and how they’re actually regulated.
Currently, there are two bills waiting in the wings of Kentucky’s state Congress that if passed will legalize sports betting within state lines. These bills are KY H12 and KY S 23, and even though Kentucky is strict against casino gambling, there is an excellent chance that these bills could pass, making land-based sports betting a regulated thing.
Unfortunately, sports betting most likely won’t be legal until early 2022 because House Bill 241 sadly perished in the House on March 12, 2021. State Representative, Adam Koenig who was the bill’s sponsor introduced it to legislation in 2020, then brought it back in 2021. Sadly, due to the timing and that the session was mostly concentrated on legalizing Historical Horse racing, it left no time for sports betting.
As we mentioned in the last section, House Bill 241 wasn’t able to be passed due to a shortened legislature session. The bill in the form it’s in now would make retail and mobile sportsbooks fully legal along with bettors being able to wager on professional sports, collegiate sports, online poker, and Daily Fantasy Sports.
The bill will enter into the House again for the third time in 2022. Representative Koenig, along with many supporters believes that 2022 will finally be the year that sports betting becomes legal. Thank goodness the next session will be longer, making the passage less difficult. And because it will be the third time legislators have seen this specific bill will make it even easier to go over and give it the stamp of approval.
Once sports betting becomes fully legal, it will depend on the casino partners that come into the state, but until then, you can still place your Pari-mutuel bets at the following places:
Twin Spires Casino - Retail and online
The Red Mile
When Representative Koenig’s sports betting bill is accepted into law, Kentucky will be limited to seven sports betting locations; each of the horse racetracks will be granted a sportsbook license, as well as the Kentucky Speedway, could also be a sportsbook host. When the bill first entered into legislation, one of the amendments from Representative Richard Heath would have allowed many more retail sportsbook locations, 3,200 lottery retailers, and 400 bars and restaurants the ability to apply for licenses.
Because of Kentucky’s history with online gambling, we can’t be certain whether or not sports betting will include an online option. Until it’s determined, Kentuckians are still able to place online wagers if they’d like to bet on horse races.
Representative Koenig’s bill does include a mobile option, so fingers crossed that when the bill goes into effect, the mobile component will be included as well.
The minimum age to play the lottery or bet on horse racing in Kentucky is 18 years old. Meanwhile, players must be at least 21 years old to play the slots-like historical horse racing machines.
Recently proposed legislation suggests a minimum age of 18 for sports betting.
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