Kentucky is one of a small handful of states that does not offer casino gaming, joining Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont as states without land-based casinos. Kentucky sports betting launched in September 2023, but expansion to include other forms of gambling seems rather unlikely at this time.
On this page, we’ll take a look at why Kentucky doesn’t offer casino gambling, what would need to change to allow casinos, and what other options are available for KY gamblers.
Are casinos legal in Kentucky?
No, casinos are not legal in Kentucky. State law does not allow for casino gambling, whether it is Kentucky online casinos or in-person. Gamblers are limited to sports betting, lottery games, horse racing, historic horse racing (HHR) machines, and sweepstakes/social casinos.
In March 2023, Gov. Andy Beshear signed HB594 which banned “gray machines,” which are similar to casino-style slot machines but require players to manually change a reel. The manufacturer of these machines argues this turns the machines into games of skill rather than of chance, but the new law disagrees and prohibits their operation. This new law indicates Kentucky legislators are in no rush to change casino regulations any time soon, despite studies indicating Kentuckians would support casino legislation.
Gov. Beshear has said Kentucky loses more than $500 million annually to casino gambling activity in neighboring states.
Are any land-based casinos opening in Kentucky soon?
No, there are no land-based casinos opening in Kentucky soon. Casino gaming is still prohibited under state law, and even if laws are changed to allow for this form of gambling, it would be years before facilities are built and operational.
Timeline of casinos in Kentucky
Given the illegal nature of casino gambling in Kentucky, the timeline of casino history in the state is quite limited. However, we’ve highlighted a few key dates in the history of Kentucky’s casino enterprises.