Is Sports Betting Legal in Kentucky?

Betting on games with a mint julep in the other hand and a bunch of horse tickets in your pocket? Why not, right? The commonwealth of Kentucky, known for one of the biggest (fully legal) betting events in the United States, has few reasons to say neigh to legalized sports betting, but it seems like it will get more opposition than you would expect.

While Kentucky has iconic Churchill Downs and also another mega horse racing draw in Keeneland, Kentucky doesn’t have a casino. It would be extremely easy to run sports betting through the race tracks, but Governor Matt Bevin has repeatedly pushed back against anything that would expand gambling in the state.

So, the state of Kentucky will wait. Or its citizens will just go across state lines into Indiana, Illinois, or West Virginia, which are all likely to make the move on sports betting rather quickly. This is one instance where race tracks like Churchill and Keeneland could be a detriment. The state is already seeing a gaming windfall and, while sports betting would add to it, it isn’t as essential as it is for other states.

The state of legalized sports betting in Kentucky could be an ongoing point of discussion long after neighboring states have adopted and implemented their plans. That isn’t what you probably would have expected from a state that so clearly celebrates gambling on a regular basis, but it is the way that things are shaping up.


Recent News Stories About Betting

As mentioned, Governor Matt Bevin isn’t in any hurry. Ironically, in this piece from the Courier Journal by Lucas Aulbach and Tom Loftus, the governor outright called the Kentucky Derby “sports betting”.

In a complementary piece the same day by Loftus and Justin Sayers, the governor was once again cited for his support of the overturn as PASPA. But, it seems as though he did it under the concept of states’ rights.

In an op/ed piece for the Courier Journal, Joseph Gerth sounded pessimistic, to say the least.

With brick-and-mortar facilities like Churchill Downs already standing, there wouldn’t be a whole lot of construction cost to house legalized betting. Churchill Downs Inc. had some thoughts on the subject via WDRB.

It turns out Kentucky may be moving forward after all, as a bipartisan plan was starting to come together as of June 19, 2018, but it may not include college sports.

Another update on the plan, as legislators have been quoted as saying that legalized sports betting could be in Kentucky by next summer per the Cincinnati Enquirer.



Governor Matt Bevin is being chased down the backstretch by Constituents Of The Commonwealth followed by Dollars Over Borders and Common Sense. Eventually, Kentucky will cave. As it is, a lot of money exits the state to Jack Cincinnati Casino and Belterra, not to mention Mardi Gras Casino in Huntington, WV.

Too many dollars float across the border and it’s way too easy to install at Churchill, Keeneland, and the others. This will happen, but it won’t be as quick as other states.


Neighboring States







West Virginia