Kentucky was one of the first states to make headlines in regards to online poker back in 2008. The state made a stance and actually seized domains of some of the largest online poker rooms operating at that time. Of course, the poker rooms just moved their sites to a new domain and continued operating, but it did cause a stir.
Kentucky definitely isn’t an anti-gambling state. The state is home to The Kentucky Derby. The state has a long history of gambling, and gambling continues in the state even today. The gambling in Kentucky is very regulated, though.
Can Players From Kentucky Play Real Money Poker Online?
Yes! Kentucky players do still have some options for playing poker online. Following the Kentucky government seizing many online poker domains, several online poker rooms stopped offering their services to the players in Kentucky. Some sites decided to continue accepting players from Kentucky, and these sites continue to accept players from Kentucky today. Any site on our Online Poker Real Money USA page currently accepts players from Kentucky.
Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Kentucky?
Kentucky was one of the first states to take a stance against online poker by seizing the domains of several poker rooms. However, Kentucky has not made a specific law making online poker illegal.
- Kentucky 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 a certain outcome.
- Kentucky has several laws related to gambling, but most of the laws refer to the facility or persons offering the gambling not the person doing the gambling.
- Charitable Bingo is approved in Kentucky with proper licensing.
- Casinos Nights for charity are approved in Kentucky with proper licensing. 
- The law appears to allow home poker games in Kentucky as long as the stakes are low and no one is taking a rake from the game.
We are not lawyers, nor do we have any kind of degree in the law field. This is just our interpretation of the laws. This site is in no way offering legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for clarification of the laws in Kentucky if you are concerned about the legality playing online poker.
Kentucky Gambling History
Kentucky has a rich history when it comes to gambling. We are all aware of the Kentucky Derby, but the history of Kentucky contains a lot more gambling than just betting on horse races.
The first Kentucky Derby race was in 1875, and the recorded history of betting on these horse races dates back as early as 1878. The horse races attracted many including gangsters that set up illegal gambling houses in Northern Kentucky.
Before reform groups drove out the illegal gambling operations, Northern Kentucky was nationally known for their gambling. Gambling was big business in this area from 1930 to 1960. Jerry Gels, owner of American Legacy Tours states
Northern Kentucky was really your first gaming area, or Mecca, of the United States. There were more casinos, more gaming, more quality places than anywhere else in the nation.
Newport, Kentucky was a well-known hotspot for illegal gambling during this time. There was so much gambling going on that the city was nicknamed “Sin City.” The law enforcement in the area chose to look the other way when it came to gambling in their city. One local resident, Mike Stull who grew up in Newport says
It was an accepted way of life, What I find very interesting nowadays is we wanted to get rid of that gambling and what do we want to do now? We want it back.
Since this time Kentucky has added a few legal gaming avenues for its residents. The state lottery was established in 1988 when voters voted for it. The lottery commission was formed and the first tickets were sold in 1989. Later that same year Kentucky decided to offer sales of lottery tickets online. This has been a very profitable move for the state.
Kentucky of course has pari-mutuel horse race betting in their state at their 8 race tracks. Of the 8 race tracks, at least 2 of them offer some casino games. You can not only bet on the races at live events in Kentucky, but this state also allows citizens to place bets on the races online.
Kentucky has recently started to consider land based casinos in their state. The legislation stalled before it ever made it to voters in 2012, but most people feel that Kentucky will have casinos in their state in the near future.
Legalized Gambling Options in Kentucky
Kentucky provides several legal way to gamble online and offline. Bingo, betting on horse races, betting on dog races, lottery, and casino nights for charity are all legal in Kentucky. Kentucky does not have many options for playing poker legally. A few of the horse race tracks also offer casino games, but poker is not among the offerings. According to our interpretation of the law, you can play home poker games legally in Kentucky if you follow strict guidelines and no one takes a rake from the game.
Will Kentucky Legalize Online Poker in the Future?
The future of online poker in Kentucky is unclear at this time. You would think that a state that already offers online betting on the races and an online lottery would welcome online poker. In reality they have made a strong move against it thus far. It seems that the racetracks do not want online poker, and they are fighting strongly to make sure that the residents of Kentucky aren’t allowed to play.
I am guessing that there was a lot of pressure for the governor of Kentucky to get a judge to sign an order to seize the domains of several online casinos and poker sites back in 2008. The same people that were putting the pressure on the governor at that time will probably fight against any online poker regulation.