Kentucky Poker Laws - Legal Online Gambling in Kentucky

Kentucky Online Poker Laws
Is Online Poker Legal in Kentucky?

Gambling is practically a state tradition in Kentucky, and poker has also played a big role in the history of the Bourbon State.  Poker used to be the stuff of riverboats and underground clubs, but today's Kentucky poker scene is more about live casinos and online poker.  Now that the Internet is practically everywhere in the state, poker can be - and is - everywhere too. 
That's led to plenty of questions about how online poker works, whether you can play poker online from Kentucky and the general climate for gambling in the state - questions answered in our Online Poker Player's Guide to Kentucky.

Online Poker in Kentucky

Our top online poker rooms for Kentucky players are a result of a good deal of research that focuses on a few core things: Whether the room is legally regulated, how generous the room is with promotions and bonuses, how easy the games are and how good the software is.  After surveying dozens of rooms, we used those criteria to narrow the list down to these top online poker sites for players from Kentucky:

Can Poker Players From Kentucky Play Poker Online?

Thanks to the aggressive position taken by some in the Kentucky government on the issue of gambling online, not all online poker rooms take players from the state of Kentucky.  That isn't the same as saying no poker rooms will accept Kentucky sign ups.  There are still a multitude of online poker sites where Kentuckians can play for real money.

Online Poker Legal in Kentucky

What does the law say about playing online poker in Kentucky?  The first step to answering that question: review the Kentucky statutes here[1].  The next step is to consult a lawyer if you still have questions.  For those who just want to gain a basic understanding of Kentucky gambling law, here are some parts of the code that all poker players should be familiar with.

  1. What does Kentucky law consider to be gambling?  Gambling is defined in Section 528.010 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."
  2. There's a phrase in Kentucky gambling law that could easily confuse at first glance - "profiting from gambling activity" (Section 528.010)  You might think this could also apply to simply winning at a poker game, but it's actually referring specifically to profiting from the operation of an illegal gambling activity (not just participation).
  3. Kentucky is one of the few states that does not have an obvious criminal penalty for those who engage in illegal gambling exclusively as players. 
  4. With that said, Kentucky does have a number of steep penalties for those who "advance gambling activity," a broad category of actions that encompasses all "conduct that materially aids any form of gambling activity" (Section 528.010).

While our cursory reading of the law regarding poker in Kentucky suggests that players do not face any criminal liability for playing real-money poker online, this guide should not be taken as a substitute for legal advice.

Will Kentucky Regulate Online Poker?

The common answer is "no," but we think there's actually a decent chance that Kentucky will elect to regulate online poker in some form before too long.  Why?  Because of the state's massive horse racing industry.  That industry is already moving online, and you can bet that they'll be looking to take poker along for the ride soon enough.  With the power the horse lobby holds in Lexington, they certainly could bring about poker regulation in fairly short order if properly motivated to do so.

Kentucky Gambling Facts

History of Gambling in Kentucky

By some accounts, Kentucky was home to Las Vegas before Vegas even existed.  While a town of a different name - Newport - was the central attraction for gamblers, historians seem to agree that Kentucky was essentially the turn of the century equivalent to Las Vegas, complete with underworld crime figures, illicit profits and plenty of suspect activity.  Colorful gangsters and their gambling hangouts are now the stuff of legend and nostalgia in Kentucky, but betting and wagering continues to play a vital role in the culture and economy of the state.

Regulated Gambling Options in Kentucky

Within the state borders of Kentucky, you're limited to the lottery, charitable gambling and - of course - pari-mutuel betting on horse races.  After all, what fun would the Kentucky Derby be if everyone just watched the horses run?  There are no commercial casinos in the state, but several site right on various borders in neighboring states such as Indiana and Ohio.  While there has been some talk of bringing full-fledged commercial casinos (along with poker rooms) to Kentucky, repeated attempts to do so by the state legislature have failed, suggesting that the current lineup of regulated gambling options may well persist for years to come.

Does Kentucky Offer any Regulated Online Gambling?

Residents of Kentucky are able to legally place online bets on horse races through approved operators.  Otherwise, Kentucky has yet to take any legislative action that would allow it to issue online poker licenses or regulate online poker (or any other type of online gambling) within the state.

Recent Kentucky Gambling Headlines

Gambling continues to be a much-discussed topic in the Kentucky media.  In 2012, the two big stories related to gambling in the state were the continued crackdown on electronic gambling machines [2]and the chances for the expansion of regulated gambling in Kentucky - chances that many believe diminished after elections in November [3] that rewarded the anti-gambling lobby.

Kentucky Gambling Resources

Northern Kentucky Gambling Museum[4].  Take a virtual trip on YouTube through this interesting and eclectic institution that houses artifacts from the state's past as a gambling hub.
Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling[5].  Scholarly material concerning the gambling industry in Kentucky, along with a full suite of literature and tools aimed at reducing problem gambling in the state.
Kentucky.com[6].  Best source for local news and developments related to gambling and similar topics.  Follow legislation and other issues shaping the future of the gambling industry in Kentucky.

Sources & Citations For This Article on New Jersey Online Poker