Kentucky is an American state located in the southeastern region of the country. Officially known as the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it was admitted into the Union in 1792, roughly 16 years after the Declaration of Independence. Talking numbers, it is the 37th largest and, with roughly 4.5 million inhabitants, the 26th most populous state in the country.
Kentucky’s two largest cities are Louisville and Lexington which, when combined, account for more than 20% of the total population of the state.
Geographically speaking, Kentucky is landlocked, and shares borders all around with other US states. To the north, it shares borders with Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio. To the east, it borders Virginia and West Virginia. To the south, it shares borders with Tennessee and to the west, Missouri.
Kentucky is popularly called the “Bluegrass State” on account of the eponymous specie located in the central and northern parts of the state. This grass specie and its pastures are good for thoroughbred horse ranching, helping the horse-racing industry to thrive. The Kentucky Derby, the largest horse-racing event in the US and one of the biggest in the world, is held in the state and entails two weeks of anticipatory celebrations ahead of the main event. Basically, horse-racing is a crucial facet of gambling and entertainment in Kentucky.
Early History of Gambling and Poker in Kentucky
In 1891, around a century after it was admitted into the Union, Kentucky lawmakers sought to make clear the gambling activities that were permitted by law. In doing so, the state banned all gambling activities except betting on horse-racing and dog races. The need for this legal clarification was necessitated, in large part, by the fact that the lotteries that ran in the state at the time were extremely corrupt.
Of course, just as with many other laws, Kentucky’s move to legalize horse racing brought with it some benefits. The Kentucky Derby, a world-renowned event that started in 1875, now had a legal means of monetization. This meant that the races could lawfully rake in huge amounts of money and in doing so, make a lot of tax dollars for the state government.
In 1988, however, things changed for the bluegrass state, as Kentucky passed its Lottery Act. This brought back the lottery and made it a state-regulated gaming activity that was and is still available to everyone over the age of 18.
Current State of Gambling and Poker in Kentucky
To put it simply, Kentucky has strict laws on casino-style gambling and other related activities. Large scale poker, roulette, craps and other similar games of chance are banned without prejudice in the state. Residents of Kentucky do not have access to locally-situated casinos of any kind and, in fact, the state does not have any commercial or even tribal casinos.
Home poker games, free tournaments with no entry fees, and charitable poker games seem to be allowed in the state. Peculiarly, participants in social poker games are clearly exempt from prosecution, with punishment being doled out (the rare times that it is) on the organizers of these games.
“Charitable gambling” events such as bingo, pull-tabs and other raffles are allowed in the state. They are highly regulated, though, and most (if not all) of the proceeds from any of these events are to be donated to charitable organizations.
One major stumbling block that may harm any future move towards broadening the scope of legal gambling in the state is the nature of the language and wording found in its gaming laws. These laws are centuries old and depend on archaic interpretations and definitions. As such, their wording might not gel properly with modern gambling terminology.
In summary, when it comes to live betting, the only legally-permitted activities in the state are horse-racing, the lottery, and other activities classified as charitable gambling activities.
Whether or not online gambling is legal in Kentucky is, indeed, subject to individual interpretation. There is no language in the state’s gaming laws that explicitly renders the activity legal or unlawful. In fact, the state’s constitution only mentions online pari-mutuel bets on horse-races. As usual, this plays into the state’s strong support for its darling horse-racing industry.
Going by past actions taken by the state on online gambling, however, it would seem that there is a de-facto ban on the activity. This is because, in 2008, Kentucky attempted the seizure of more than 140 domain names registered to online betting service providers. This exercise proved a failure and many of the services still retain their original names and .com extensions even till this day. Perhaps, the major takeaway from this is that online gambling is easier to regulate than it is to ban outright.
As things stand, you can freely place bets on off-shore betting platforms and express your love for poker on the go – even if you happen to live in Kentucky. Online gambling in the state has, for the most part, gone undisturbed and without disruption by law enforcement. If you’re looking to play, platforms like Bovada, BetOnline, and Drake’s Casino are excellent options.
Established in 2011, this platform has grown in leaps and bounds over the years. Alongside its virtual casino platform where you can play real-money poker, it also has a sportsbook and racebook. Bovada offers users a 25% first deposit bonus and is available across PC’s and mobile devices.
This platform’s strongest strength is its website and app functionality. All the relevant poker variants and in-game controls are placed front-and-center for you to access. The 50% percent bonus up to $1,000 isn’t a bad addition too.
Drake’s Casino is one of the more experience US-facing online poker platforms out there. The website offers live demo games to users without an account. If you do sign up, you’ll be greeted with a 100% first deposit bonus up to $1,000.