If you like horse racing, you are in luck. With iconic Churchill Downs and world-renowned Keeneland, you can bet on anything and everything that goes on at those two horse tracks. Furthermore, off-track betting for tracks from around the world is also available.
If you like betting on sports, you are out of luck. Kentucky, which has embraced wagering in the form of horse racing seemingly since the beginning of time, does not have legal sports betting and doesn’t even have casino gambling. Casino gambling tends to be a prerequisite for sports betting because of the need for a brick-and-mortar structure within which a sportsbook can be constructed. With Churchill Downs and Keeneland, there are opportunities to put a sportsbook in those betting centers.
As of the fall of 2019, Kentucky had not moved far on sports betting. Four legs good. Two legs bad. It is a hot-button issue for the 2019 gubernatorial election, as the Democrat, Andy Beshear, is in favor of the expansion of gambling and the incumbent Republican, Matt Bevin, is not.
That being said, representatives are excited about the chances of Kentucky passing some sort of sports betting legislation in 2020. The irony in all of this is that Churchill Downs Inc. operates two sportsbooks through BetAmerica at Harlow’s Casino & Resort in Greenville, Mississippi and Riverwalk Casino Hotel in Vicksburg, Mississippi. CDI is also involved with Presque Isle in Erie, Pennsylvania and has a partnership with BetAmerica for that sportsbook.
In most states, the pressure of losing revenue to bordering states is eventually going to push sports betting through. That will likely be the case in Kentucky. At least you can get your fill of the action by betting the ponies at places like TVG or BetAmerica.
Can I Bet on Sports in Kentucky?
Sports betting is not legal in Kentucky, though horse racing could be considered a sport. However, not all hope is lost for Kentuckians in the beautiful Bluegrass State. Online sports betting is legal in Indiana, residents in and around Louisville, Kentucky have easy access to sports betting. As of October 3, 2019, Indiana was open for mobile sports betting business. BetRivers and DraftKings were the first to take those wagers in concert with Rush Street Interactive.
While sports betting is not legal in Kentucky, daily fantasy has been. That means that a lot of Kentucky residents are familiar with DraftKings. That is good because a simple trip across the border to Indiana will allow them to download the DraftKings app and get all set up to start making online sports bets. Apple users can get the DraftKings app right in the App Store. Android users have to use a roundabout solution by downloading the app from the DraftKings website.
Of course, you can also just bet in a browser on the DraftKings website. The catch in all of this is that you must be located in the state of Indiana to make your bets. You can get all signed up and look at odds and whatnot, but you have to be in Indiana to place bets.
It will be remarkably easy for Louisville residents to slide over the border and get some bets in, especially if you want to bet your beloved Cardinals and fade those darned Kentucky Wildcats. On the other hand, if you live in Lexington, you can head east where mobile betting in West Virginia is available. You can also just go northwest to Indiana and use DraftKings or one of the other apps to bet on UK.
This is actually a really important distinction and something to remember even if Kentucky gets legalized sports betting. In the state of New Jersey, betting on NCAA events being held in the state is not permitted. It’s entirely possible that a provision like that pops up in Kentucky, especially with the state’s reluctance to expand gaming. That could be a compromise at some point. Whether that’s the case or not, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have access to the apps in Indiana and West Virginia. And Ohio, if their legislature ever moves forward.
Kentucky is a state largely known for its college athletics, but the online sportsbooks in Indiana, Ohio, or any of the other states with mobile sports betting, like New Jersey, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, have a full catalog of professional leagues like the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB. Those operators even have Racebooks for betting on the ponies, so you can have a one-stop shop to do it all.
Even though sports betting is not legal in Kentucky, it probably will be within the next couple of years. In the meantime, there are a lot of options, especially for those in the two big cities of Louisville and Lexington to head on over to Indiana and take advantage of an app like DraftKings or some of the brick-and-mortar casinos to dip a toe into the sports betting pool.