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Kentucky is not a gambling-friendly state by any means. Actually, it could have some of the strictest laws around gambling…

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Popular slots in Kentucky

Kentucky is not a gambling-friendly state by any means. Actually, it could have some of the strictest laws around gambling in the entire country. 

That being said, Kentucky does have minimal options for those looking to press their luck, including the famously known Kentucky Derby. 

Horse racing is legal in the Bluegrass State, as well as the state lottery. 

Is online gambling in the future of Kentucky? And how did the state become so strict towards gambling in the first place? We break it down and more in our Kentucky gambling guide below. 

Online Casinos in Kentucky

Although Kentucky has a long tradition with horse racing, it has not legalized casinos (online or otherwise).

There have been limited discussions of legalizing online casinos, but it seems unlikely that we’ll see online casinos offered there in the foreseeable future.  

Kentucky does have a state lottery, which can indicate an openness to other forms of betting.

The nearest online casinos will be in West Virginia, which has already approved legislation. Tennessee has recently approved online sports betting.

But, you can still register with a legal online casino while you’re in Kentucky.

That means you can get the casino’s bonus offers or deposit, and then play whenever you’re in states where it’s legal (even in a layover at the airport). (Do be aware of the casino bonus’s expiry date, though.)

The only forms of legal online gambling in the state include the lottery and pari-mutuel betting. 

 Land-Based Casinos in Kentucky

The most common type of gambling offered is pari-mutuel betting on thoroughbred horse racing at the 10 racetracks located throughout the state.

The most famous horse race offered in the state is the Kentucky Derby, which has been run annually since 1875.

The Kentucky Derby is always run at Churchill Downs on the first Sunday in May.

A festival is also held each year for two weeks before the race in Louisville, where the track is located. Louisville is also the state’s largest city.

There are three racetrack casinos in Kentucky that offer some form of casino gambling. There are no traditional slot machines in Kentucky casinos. Instead, they all offer instant racing betting machines.

While these machines may appear to be regular slot machines, they are actually gaming machines that are based on unidentified past horse races and the spinning reels shown on the machines are for entertainment purposes only.

Those instant racing machines are the only types of casino gambling offered in Kentucky casinos. You will not find any table games offered at the casinos in Kentucky.

Types of Casinos in Kentucky

There are no traditional casinos in Kentucky. 

Residents have numerous racetracks to choose from, as explained above.

List of Racetracks in Kentucky

Derby City Gaming
Derby City Gaming

Derby City Gaming

Owned and operated by Churchill Downs, enjoy 1000 games, great promotions, a bourbon sports bar, casual dining and more at Derby City Gaming.

Ellis Park
Ellis Park

Ellis Park

Open 365 days a year, Ellis Park provides the newest and hottest Historical Horse Racing machines, combining the thrill of live horse racing and the fun & flash of video gaming.

Kentucky Downs
Kentucky Downs

Kentucky Downs

Jackpots are closer than you think! Visit Kentucky Downs Gaming, just 30 minutes north of Nashville, for exciting gaming action, dining, drinks and more.

Red Mile
Red Mile

Red Mile

The iconic Red Mile Racetrack is home of the Kentucky Futurity, one of the three jewels in Trotting’s Triple Crown. This racino offers over 900 interactive games with 138 thrilling themes.

Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs is where the famous Kentucky Derby is held each year! After enjoying a day at the races (and mint juleps), you can also enjoy a number of their instant racing betting machines.

Turfway Park

A Thoroughbred racetrack in Northern Kentucky, Turfway Park offers live racing in the winter and early spring and simulcast wagering all year. It also hosts the annual $250,000 Jeff Ruby Steaks, widely-viewed as a testing ground for Kentucky Derby dreams.



Located in the Horse Capital of the World, Keeneland is an internationally renowned racecourse. Keeneland hosts world-class racing twice annually during its boutique Spring and Fall meetings. Owners, trainers, riders and fans from all over the world travel to Lexington each year to participate at Keeneland.

Kentucky Land-Based Casinos Map

You can easily see all casino locations by using our Kentucky casinos map. To zoom in, just click the + (plus) sign in the lower right corner of the map, or to zoom out, just click the – (minus) sign in the same area.

To move the map of casinos in Kentucky, click and hold down either of your mouse buttons. Then use the hand icon to drag the map in whichever direction you desire.

Each of the red icons on the map is a casino location. Just click on any red icon to see the name of the casino at that location. If you want more information on that casino, simply click again on the casino’s name and it will direct you to another page with detailed information on that particular casino, including address, phone number, toll-free phone number, room rates, casino size, dining information, games offered, availability of discounts for seniors, any special features, and a direct link to that casino’s website.

History of Gambling in Kentucky 

While many of the horse racing tracks have been in business since 1875, gambling only really began in Kentucky in the 1920s. This is mainly due to the fact that the race tracks did not want anything to do with gambling for a long time. 

When pari-mutuel betting debuted in the 1920s, horse racing became extremely popular in the state. Multiple racinos began operating and residents could now start placing wagers on the Kentucky Derby.

It was only in the 1980s when more forms of gambling were legalized, and the lottery was introduced.

In 1992, charitable bingo games were also deemed legal in KY. 

In recent years, most forms of gambling remain illegal in the state with few discussions on trying to change the current laws. 

The Kentucky Derby remains the most popular race in perhaps the country. 

The Kentucky Derby 

The Kentucky Derby has a rich history behind it, dating back all the way to 1872. A gentleman by the name of Meriwether Lewis Clark (grandson of William Clark from Lewis & Clark pair) took a trip to the United Kingdom and watched the Epson Derby. 

He enjoyed the race so much, he decided to start one himself when he returned to the United States. 

Clark was able to build a large track on land his uncles John and Henry Churchill gave him and formed the Louisville Jockey Club. 

The first race was held on May 17th, 1875, and featured 15 thoroughbred horses. Over 10,000 people came to watch the event. 

Of course, the Kentucky Derby today is not the same race it was back in the 1800s. However, centuries later, and the event is still the most popular race in America. 

You can read more about the timeline of the Kentucky Derby, here.   

Kentucky Gambling Laws and Regulatory Organizations

The gambling laws in KY are very strict and will go so far as to press charges against those who are caught participating in any forms of illegal gambling. 

This includes online and social gaming. 

Bills have been brought to the state in an effort to relax some of the laws around gambling, like allowing slot games, but have all been shot down. 

The Department of Charitable Gaming sees over all charity games in the state, including raffles and bingo, and distributes the licenses. 

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission works with the state to regulate all pari-mutuel betting and racing in KY.  

Gambling in Kentucky Today

Residents of Kentucky today have pari-mutuel betting, the lottery, and bingo as options for legal gambling. 

It’s unlikely online casinos will be legalized in Kentucky any time soon, but gamblers can look forward to the Kentucky Derby every year. 

If you find yourself in court due to illegal gambling, you can try and argue that you’re just a player as the laws seem to be much harder and stricter on operators. 

Fun Facts 

Did you know?

In 2017, the Kentucky Derby raked in almost $1 Billion in wagers! 

Useful Resources 

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For more information on visiting the casinos in Kentucky, call the Kentucky Department of Tourism at (800) 225-8747, or visit their website at