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Kentucky Sports Betting – Is Sports Betting Legal in Kentucky?

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Like a lot of US states, there is quite a bit of confusion around sports betting in Kentucky. The top and bottom are that yes, you can bet on sports within the state, but it must be with sportsbooks that are located offshore.

The laws state that Kentucky sports betting is illegal, but all this refers to is betting in establishments within Kentucky. There is no law that bans people from betting with sportsbooks that are willing to accept them outside of the state. These are often referred to as “offshore” sportsbooks.

Best Kentucky Sports Betting Sites 2021

Below we’ve included a list of some of the sportsbooks that accept players from Kentucky. We’ve ranked them one through ten, but to be honest, they are all strong candidates and provide good betting opportunities regardless of their status.

  • BetOnline Best odds structure throughout the site
  • BetUSBest for VIP/Loyalty program
  • MyBookie Huge range of sports and markets to choose from
  • Bovada – Best overall with great depth and a stunning design
  • XBet – Strong for NBA and NFL betting
  • Sportsbetting.ag – Great for basketball and American football betting
  • BUSR – Large coverage of international sports
  • BetNow – Strong when it comes to prop bets and specials for US-based sports

Best Kentucky Sportsbooks Reviewed

We wanted to take the time to look a little deeper at our top 5 Kentucky sports betting sites, so we’ve given each of them min reviews below.

Sports within Kentucky are largely dominated by college basketball, college football and horse racing. They do have a number of pro teams in baseball and soccer, but the state is best known for their stellar college sports.

Within each review, we will look at how the sportsbooks perform overall, but pay keen attention to college sports and horse racing, especially the Kentucky Derby, which is one of the biggest horse races in the world.

1)   Bovada – Best Overall for Kentucky Sports Betting

Bovada lands the top spot for Kentucky sports betting. The site’s design is one of the best and this is true for both mobile and desktop platforms.

Bovada has one of the best basketball coverages that we’ve come across. Throughout the NCAA season, they run a multitude of specials and boosted odds. Given the profile of both the Kentucky Wildcats and the Lousiville Cardinals as two of the highest-rated colleges in the country for basketball, they both benefit from this more times than most.

March Madness is a fast and furious time of most sportsbooks and Bovada comes alive during this period.

Their horse racing section comes as a standalone feature separate from the main sportsbook. One of their biggest events is that of the Kentucky Derby, which benefits from live streaming on the site. Coverage from several of the state’s top racecourses such as Churchill Downs, Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park is strong, but they don’t have the market coverage that a BetOnline or BetUS have for the “lesser profile” meetings.

Betting limits are going to range based on the sports that you bet on. Generally, you can wager up to $5,000 on sides and $1,000 on parlays, totals and teasers. These limits aren’t terrible, but they decrease even further for sports that have a smaller following.

Finally, Bovada comes with a $1,000 welcome bonus attached. It’s a 50% deposit match of your opening deposit and then you get 30 days to wager through the bonus 5 times before it expires, making it one of the most accessible that you can claim.

Pros

  • Best looking sportsbook on the market
  • Huge coverage for sports both in and outside of the US
  • Balanced welcome offers that sync with all players
  • A trusted brand that’s been around (in some form) for a long time

Cons

  • Not a huge range of payment options

1)   BetOnline – Great Odds and Huge Range of Sports

BetOnline is the best Kentucky sportsbook when it comes to odds. We’ve been able to extensively compare them to all ten of the sportsbooks listed on this page and they’ve consistently come out as one of, if not the, best priced.

One of the areas that caught our eye was that of the soccer betting section, covering a huge range of leagues from around the world. But, it was the US-based coverage that was most impressive, even including games from the USL Championship, making it one of the few places that you’re able to bet on Lousiville City FC.

The racebook is another highlight for us and in terms of coverage, there aren’t many that are better. They have races from all over the world and one of their highlights is that of the Kentucky Derby.

They go head to head here with Bovada and we loved that you had so many markets to bet on, such as straight bets, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double, pick 3 and pick 4. It’s not just the Derby that you get access to these markets, with all of their domestic races getting access to this and around 80% of international races as well.

College coverage is highly impressive. We just so happen to be testing outside of college basketball season, but there are futures up already for the winner of next year’s NCAA. Highlighting their strength when it comes to odds once more, Kentucky is priced at +1400 to win on BetOnline, with the next best priced being +1600 at MyBookie.

BetOnline’s welcome bonus is another 50% match worth up to $1,000. For this, you need to wager through the full amount 10 times within 30 days to clear it.

Pros

  • Best overall when it comes to odds
  • Great range of US sports and betting markets within
  • Some of the best parlay and future bets you will find
  • Huge $1,000 welcome bonus which is the biggest of any Kentucky sports betting site

Cons

  • Design is a little basic
  • Integration into the mobile app needs to be improved

2)   BetUS – Brilliant VIP/Loyalty Section as well as eSports

BetUS is on our list of Kentucky sports betting online.

The design of the sportsbook is what’s going to initially catch your eye. It’s one of the best by far and we’ve loved being able to review it for that reason alone.

A standout feature for us was the inclusion of live betting. They aren’t the only sportsbook to include this, but they have the best section for viewing games, markets and odds all in one place.

BetUS also includes a huge range of college basketball matches within their live section. This is one of the best places to bet on the Wildcats and the Cardinals if live betting is your thing.

The horse racing section has been a key part of the site’s success. Obviously, coverage of the Kentucky Derby is a given, but they include all races from all horse racing tracks in Kentucky, including harness racing, which is a massive plus.

We also loved the offers that come thick and fast for horse racing. An example would be money-back offers where they highlight a race on any given day where if you place a bet and it comes second, then you get your money back (outright winner markets only).

Pros

  • Great looking sportsbook and betting app
  • Good range of existing and new player promos
  • Works well with future and parlay bets
  • Excellent for eSports betting

Cons

  • Bonus wagering is not the easiest

3)   MyBookie – Best for New and Existing Player Promotions

MyBookie takes our number three spot. The sportsbook is best known for its large betting offers and general depth within the sportsbook.

You’re going to get access to a good range of payment options, with the likes of Visa, Mastercard and Bitcoin leading the way. Minimum deposits start from just $20 and are usually processed within an hour (most are immediate). The lack of withdrawal options is a little frustrating and most are going to opt for a bank wire, which starts from $50 and max out at $500 per transaction.

In terms of features, we enjoyed using the Props Builder, which is still relatively new. This is a section on the site that allows you to easily jump between sports, games and bet types, to build your own parlay bet from the masses of props on offer.

Baseball coverage within the sportsbook is one of its strengths and they are one of few that offer betting on Minor League Baseball. This means you get access to markets on the Louisville Barts and even Bowling Green Hot Rods. However, we will point out that they aren’t as accessible as Major League Baseball games, which is a little frustrating.

Like the majority of the competition, horse racing benefits from being in its own dedicated section. You will get great coverage from a number of tracks across Kentucky, but again, it’s the Derby that boasts the pick of the bunch here. MyBookie has also run special promos dedicated to just this race, so it’s well worth checking these out in the run-up to the meeting.

MyBookie comes with one of the best offers for new players in the form of a 100% deposit match up to $1,000. The bonus needs to be wagered 10 times within 30 days before it’s cleared to your cash balance.

Pros

  • The perfect alternative to either of the top 2 Kentucky online sportsbooks
  • Great catalogue of sports to choose from
  • Updated design increasing usability

Cons

  • Not as strong with sports outside of the US

4)   Sportsbetting.ag – Great Coverage of NFL, NBA and MLB

Sportsbetting.ag always seems like a controversial pick in these lists as we know that there is plenty that is no fans. It’s not so much what they offer, but it’s the design of the site that puts people off.

The sportsbook is great for early odds and they are one of the fastest from the group that we’ve tested. They have a huge range of banking options, including Bitcoin (several variations), Ripple, Check, Bank Wire, Person to Person and Skrill. The lack of both Visa and Mastercard are two notable omisions, however.

NCAA betting is another huge asset for the site making coverage of both Kentucky and Lousiville extensive, to say the least. They run a ton of prop bets for college basketball games and this would be one area that we think they are able to excel over the three sportsbooks we’ve mentioned above.

Like BetOnline, Sporsbetting.ag has a great soccer coverage and includes markets from the USL Championship, allowing you to bet on Lousiville City FC. Where they better BetOnline is market coverage with these games, serving up spread, money line and total points bets for each game. The only downside is that a lot of these bets are limited in terms of how much you can stake, which may be frustrating for some.

The Kentucky Derby is another massive event for them and they cover it about as well as any. Where they get a leg up over their rivals is that they offer integrated live streaming of the race as long as you’ve placed a bet. Live streams are delayed, so bear this in mind.

New accounts to Sportsbetting.ag can claim another $1,000 welcome bonus, with a super-low clearing rate of just 10x within 30 days of opening your account.

Pros

  • Strong odds section
  • Retro looking design that we like, but might not be everyone’s cup of tea
  • Good range of sports and markets to choose from

Cons

  • Lacks depth for markets and international sports that others have

 

Kentucky Betting Sites Comparison

One of the most important things when picking a Kentucky betting site is being able to see how each matches up against the competition. Below we’ve included a table that shows you exactly this and allows you to pick from our top 5 online sportsbooks.

Sportsbook Bonus Promo Code Available Markets Live Streaming Payment Methods
BetOnline 100% up to $1000 BOL1000 Aussie Rules, badminton, boxing, field hockey, snooker, and more No Credit card, debit card, wire transfer, money order, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple
BetUS 125% up to $2,500 JOIN125 NFL, baseball, ice hockey, tennis, and more Yes VISA, Mastercard, AmEx, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Skrill
MyBookie 100% deposit match up to $1,000 25% Reload bonus up to $500 MYBY 50 MYBY25 Basketball, boxing, eSports, horse racing, soccer, and more Yes Credit card, debit card, wire transfer, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Ethereum
Bovada Up to $1000 BVD1000 Aussie Rules, badminton, baseball, football, golf, and more Yes Credit card, debit card, Zelle, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin
Sportsbetting.ag 100% up to $1000
25% reload bonus up to $250
KICK100
FORLIFE
Baseball, basketball, NFL, golf, soccer, tennis No Credit card, debit card, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple

Is Sports Betting Legal in Kentucky?

Problems with sports betting in Kentucky reside around the wording of the law. It’s not permitted for people to place bets with sportsbooks that reside within the state. For example, if MyBookie were to be based in Kentucky, then you would not be able to place a bet with them.

However, it is not illegal for residents of Kentucky to bet on sportsbooks that are based offshore. All of the sportsbooks on this page do exactly that, which means that you’re able to create an account, deposit money and place bets on sites that are offshore and accept Kentucky players.

Legalization within the state came very close in 2019 and they were hotly tipped to be one of the first to benefit from the removal of the federal wagering ban in 2018.

However, like most states that haven’t quite gotten over the line yet, a global pandemic struck in the form of COVID and so no bill has formerly been passed yet. It is thought that by 2022 legal sports betting in Kentucky will be back on the table.

Kentucky Sports Betting Timeline

  • 1792 – Kentucky gains statehood and strict anti-gambling laws instantly applied. Parimutuel betting was legal from the off.
  • 1875 – Opening of Churchill Downs, Oakland and Woodlawn race tracks leading to the first running of the Kentucky Derby.
  • 1930s – Parimeutuel betting starts to really take off in the state and horse racing tracks gain huge popularity as a result.
  • 1988 – First state lottery started
  • 2018 – Federal wagering ban removed, and Kentucky hotly tipped to become one of the first states to take advantage of this even without any brick-and-mortar casinos.
  • 2020 – Minimal opposition came about from a bill delivered by Rep. Adam Koenig to legalize sports betting within the state. By March the pandemic had hit, and the bill was pushed to one side given the severity of COVID.
  • 2021 – A second effort to push the bill through falls short and is blamed on the additional priorities that COVID has brought within the house, adjourning any decisions to run again until 2022.

Gambling Tax in Kentucky

The gambling tax in Kentucky is relatively low and is currently set at 1.5% of the amount that a bettor will wager for slot machines. They also include an 18% tax on gross commission, with 8% going to the Kentucky General Fund and 10% back into the industry.

No tax figures have been announced should sports betting become legal, but it’s likely that these figures won’t remain when that happens. Neighbouring states such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania both have significantly higher tax brackets, and we would expect Kentucky to follow suit.

What Sports Can You Bet on in Kentucky?

If you sign up with any of the sportsbooks that we’ve mentioned on this page, you’re going to get access to pretty much any and every sport in the world. The only issue is that not each sportsbook covers all of them, so you may need to jump about to get access.

For players in Kentucky, you’re likely going to be looking to bet on sports linked to college basketball (Kentucky Wildcats and Lousiville Cardinals) and horse racing, with the obvious highlight being that of the Kentucky Derby.

There is a huge range of sports available outside of these, with the likes of baseball (minor league baseball for Lousiville Bats), basketball, football, soccer (Lousiville City FC) and tennis, to name just a select few.

eSports Betting in Kentucky

eSports is one of the fastest-growing betting markets in the world. It’s based on online gaming and you’re able to bet on events that take place in the US and globally.

Most of the sportsbooks that we recommend include some sort of eSports betting. There are degrees in terms of coverage, but as the popularity increases, so does the coverage.

Games range, but the most popular include League of Legends and Fortnite. These are both FPS games with millions of players around the world, bringing a whole new generation to online betting.

Types of Betting Markets

All the Kentucky online sports betting sites include a huge range of markets to choose from. We’ve included some of the more popular on this page.

  • Futures – Some of the best value bets you can get are that of futures. This is where you bet on markets for events that might take place weeks or even months in advance.
  • Money Line – The most common bet type. The money line is where you bet on a single outcome for the game. It could be 2 way or 3 ways if the result includes ties.
  • Total Points – This is betting on the total points scored in the game from both teams. You then pick a line for if you want over or under these points total.
  • Points Spread – A bit like handicap betting, this market is where one team will have an advantage over the over in terms of points assigned to them before the game. Both bets will start at around +/- 100 because of this.
  • Team Points – Similar to the total points, except instead on betting on the over/under for points combined, you’re betting on for that team only.

Bonuses at Kentucky Sportsbooks

It might not be all that straightforward for sports betting in Kentucky, but if you are wanting to create an account then you need to get involved with some sort of welcome bonus.

Bonuses are put in place to essentially entice you through the door. You will have noticed that when we reviewed the top five Kentucky sports betting sites, we mentioned that there’s not much between them. However, one of the things that often differs massively is the bonuses.

Below we’ve included an overview of each of the bonuses from what we consider to be the best sportsbooks for Kentucky sports bettors. A key point to note here is that the biggest bonus is not always the most accessible, so take the time and read the T’s and C’s before you commit. Once you’re in, you only get to claim a welcome bonus once.

Sportsbook Bonus Promo Code Minimum Odds Bonus Expiry Time
BetOnline 100% up to $1000 BOL1000 N/A 30 Days
BetUS 125% up to $2,500 JOIN125 N/A 14 Days
MyBookie 100% deposit match up to $1,000 25% Reload bonus up to $500 MYBY 50 MYBY25 N/A 30 Days
Bovada Up to $1000 BVD1000 N/A 30 Days
Sportsbetting.ag 100% up to $1000
25% reload bonus up to $250
KICK100
FORLIFE
N/A 30 Days

Kentucky Mobile Betting Apps

All sportsbooks that we promote for players in Kentucky will be able to access a stream of mobile betting apps. Some have dedicated apps that you can download in iOS and Android app stores, with others having mobile sites that you simply open within your mobile browser.

Darts Betting App Bovada

As mobile technology improves, we expect to see the majority of players move from online to mobile. A specific part of the initial bill for Kentucky was regarding mobile betting, so if this is the case, then apps will have to be on point.

Live Betting and Streaming in Kentucky

Live betting is one of the most profitable types of betting you can get with any sportsbook. The more games that go live the more chance you have of being able to react to events within the game and find value potentially before the sportsbook can change their markets.

Live streaming in Kentucky is a little less common by MyBookie and Bovada both offer this service. You will need to have a funded account and for some sports will need to have wagered on that game or race before you’re able to live stream.

How to Compare Kentucky Sportsbooks

There’s a number of features that we look for when creating reviews for sportsbooks in Kentucky. It’s not an exact science by any means as each is very different, but there is plenty that you can do to hunt down the best sportsbook for you.

Range of markets

The range of markets and sport to bet on is where we like to start. All US-based sports are going to have good coverage regardless of where you bet, so we look more at sports outside of the US to gauge depth. The likes of soccer, tennis, cricket, and darts and four key areas still have a good following in the US but aren’t regarded as “top sports”.

Bonuses

A good sportsbook absolutely must have a good bonus section attached. In an ideal world, this would be a welcome bonus and an existing player bonus as well. We’ve spoken more about this earlier in the article so heed that advice to get the most from your bonus section.

Payment methods

Moving money in and out of the sportsbook is paramount. We like to look at the range of payment options the sportsbook has and then the processing times with each of those. You should have options to get money in instantly and then back into your bank account with 5 working days, although ideally less. Sportsbooks that don’t have this are not up to scratch.

Licensing & Security

These are usually two areas that go hand in hand, but they are the two most important parts of any review. The sportsbook needs to be licensed with a reputable licensee. If this is the case then you can be assured that your time on the site will be safe and should anything go wrong, you will be covered. All sportsbook that we recommend is fully licensed and completely safe to use.

Are Online Casinos Legal in Kentucky?

Casino legislation falls into the same category as sports betting in that you can’t wager with a casino that is based in Kentucky. However, you can wager in online casinos that are based offshore.

Most of the sportsbooks that we recommend on this page include online casinos, so you can access these with the same account. There are no land-based casinos in Kentucky.

Land-Based Gambling in Kentucky

Kentucky is best known for its affiliation with horse racing. With 6 tracks, this is the only land-based gambling option that there are in the state.

The state doesn’t have any dedicated casinos, either state-run or tribal. They are one of few to not have access to either of these.

However, there are ways that you can both bet on sports and play casino games at a number of licensed premises. Below we’ve included a list of these licensed premises and the services that they offer.

Each of them has either access to casino games or access to sports betting. The only casino game that is permitted in Kentucky is video slots, with table games such as roulette and blackjack not being allowed.

The locations below that include slots often do so on mass. They are not classed as “casinos” but they do work in very much the same way. The information below shows the venue and how many slots are on offer or alternatively, what other gambling activities you can get access to.

  • Oak Grove Racing and Gaming Hotel – 1300 Slots
  • The Red Mile Kentucky Harness and Historic Racing – 902 Slots
  • Derby City Gaming – 900 Slots
  • Kentucky Downs Casino – 631 Slots
  • Newport Racing and Gaming – 500 Slots
  • Ellis Park – 179 Slots
  • Churchill Downs – Horse racing, simulcasting
  • Keeneland Racecourse – Simulcasting
  • Turfway Park – Horse racing, simulcasting and off-track betting

DFS in Kentucky

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is fully legal in the state of Kentucky. Like most states, Kentucky sees DFS as a game of skill rather than a game of chance. This means that betting on DFS is allowed and there are some good sites that you can play on including DraftKings and Fanduel, to name just a couple.

Horse Racing Betting in Kentucky

Kentucky is widely regarded as the home of horse racing in the US. There are six tracks in the state, but the most popular is that of Churchill Downs. The reason behind its popularity is that it’s home to the Kentucky Derby, which is one of the biggest horse races in the world.

You’re able to bet trackside at any of these tracks, but to bet online you need to be registered with an offshore sportsbook. All of the sports betting brands that we’ve included on this page give you access to horse racing betting online.

Here is a full list of the horse racing tracks within Kentucky:

  • Churchill Downs, Louisville
  • Keeneland, Lexington
  • Kentucky Downs, Franklin
  • Tufway Park, Florence
  • Ellis Park, Henderson
  • The Red Mile, Lexington

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is widely regarded as one of the biggest horse races in the world. It’s held annually at Churchill Downs and is watched by millions, with a purse of $3 million and $1,860,000 of that purse going to the winner.

The race is a Grade 1 race, meaning that it only attracts the elite three-year-old thoroughbreds running at a distance of 1 1/4 miles or 10 furlongs. It’s often referred to as “The Run for the Roses” as the winner is draped in a huge bouquet of roses once the race has finished.

Its importance in the racing calendar cannot be overlooked and it makes it one part of the American Triple Crown. The Kentucky Derby is the only race of the three that has been run every year since it was first held in 1875.

Given the magnitude of the race, all of the sportsbooks that we recommend for Kentucky sports betting have excellent coverage of the Kentucky Derby. To pick just one as a standout is not east, but it would have to be Bovada for their ties to live streaming and also Derby-based offers that run throughout the week prior to the race.

Conclusion

Kentucky, like so many US states, has been rattled by COVID when it comes to legalizing sports betting. The bill, which was almost ready to be passed, has now been put on the back burner until 2022. However, we do expect it to be passed and we also expect Kentucky to thrive when sports betting is more accessible.

Our top pick for a Kentucky sports betting site would be Bovada. You can get ahold of a welcome bonus worth up to $1,000 when you open a new account by clicking this link. 

FAQ

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Jonathan has been working within the iGaming sector since 2007. After graduating with a BA Hons in Marketing from Northumbria University, he's been able to set up his own online content business, working with some of the biggest brands in the iGaming sector. Outside of work he enjoys any type of sports, especially cricket, golf, football and darts.