HomeCasinos in KentuckyCasinos in Lexington

Casinos in Lexington

On this page, you will learn everything you need to know about casinos in Lexington Kentucky, including if there are any legal casinos in Lexington, any new casinos opening in Lexington, and more.

| Last Updated:
Table of contents

With a rich history of horse racing, the state of Kentucky up to this point has still taken a relatively conservative approach on other forms of gambling. While there are no traditional casinos in the state, there are facilities that offer slot-style machines for horse race betting called instant racing betting machines.

As brick and mortar casinos, online casinos, and sports betting continue to sweep across the country, however, legislation for gambling might soon be on its way to the Bluegrass State.

The state did take a step forward in 2023, legalizing Kentucky online sports betting which officially launched in September 2023, the first move forward in gambling legislation since the state lottery was introduced in 1989.

Focusing on one the state’s most iconic cities, let’s take a closer look at all things casinos in Lexington Kentucky. 

No, there are no legal casinos in the Lexington area, with the closest one being 78 miles west on Interstate 64 in Louisville, KY. While state legislation has not yet passed to allow for full-fledged casinos in Kentucky, there are some legal forms of gambling, all based around horse racing.

Are any casinos opening in Lexington soon?

No, there are currently no plans of casinos opening in Lexington soon, as the state legislator still works out plans to legalize the industry in the state of Kentucky.

Currently, the state permits gambling in Kentucky in the form of horse race betting at the tracks, video gaming centers, the Kentucky Lottery, and parimutuel off-track betting (OTB) facilities.

While some consider Indian casinos the path forward, the state’s two tribes, the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky and the Ridgetop Shawnee Tribe of Indians, are not officially recognized tribes by the US government and so do not qualify under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

What kinds of games could you play at Lexington casinos?

While state legislators in Kentucky still figure out the best path forward for casinos in Lexington and beyond, there still are a few types of games you can play to get involved in the action. Let’s take a look at the kinds of games you could play at Lexington casinos and those throughout the Bluegrass State.

  • Horse Race Betting: As a gambler, you can’t think of the state of Kentucky without thinking about horse race betting. Previously an industry reserved for betting at one of the many horse racing tracks in Kentucky, a law was passed in 2000 to allow for online electronic horse race betting. While you can bet at one of the state's many off-track betting (OTB) facilities, you can also bet on horses online at TwinSpires, TVG, and FanDuel Racing.
  • Horse Racing Machines: While slot machines are technically not yet legal in casinos in Lexington Kentucky, there are horse racing machines that are almost identical. Instead of playing from machines where operators randomize winnings, the results the machine spits out are tied to past horse races. Since the results of the machine are tied to past pari-mutuel wagering results, which is legal, they don’t fall under casino gaming in the state. As of early 2024, nine locations throughout the state offer horse racing machines for the state’s gamblers.
  • Online Sports Betting: Following the overturning of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018, online sports betting has been sweeping across the country. On September 28, 2023, the Bluegrass State finally got in on the action, as online sports betting was launched in the state. By October, sports betting handle in the state surpassed $290 million, as more than a half dozen operators began to set up shop in the state. As of early 2024, there are currently nine online sportsbooks in Kentucky including major players FanDuel Sportsbook, BetMGM Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, Bet365 Kentucky, and more.

FAQ

What would the minimum age be to gamble at casinos in Lexington?

The minimum age to gamble at casinos in Lexington is 21 years of age or older. For other gambling such as bingo, the lottery, and horse racing, however, the minimum age is 18 years old.

Would I have to pay taxes on winnings from Lexington casinos?

Yes, you have to pay taxes on any winnings from Lexington casinos, as well as winnings from horse race betting and online sports betting. For your individual tax situation, it’s best to check with a tax professional in Lexington, KY.

How do Lexington's gambling laws compare to those of neighboring states?

Lexington Kentucky’s gambling laws are conservative compared to those in neighboring states, as full-scale casinos are not yet legal. Compared to neighboring states such as Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia, which have legalized nearly all forms of gambling, Lexington’s gambling laws have a lot of catching up to do.

Are there any cruise ships or riverboat casinos operating near Lexington?

No, no cruise ships or riverboat casinos are operating near Lexington. For those who are looking to visit one, the neighboring state of Indiana has a host to choose from.

What are the potential economic benefits of having casinos in Lexington?

The potential economic benefits of having casinos in Lexington are massive, and include benefits both from a revenue and job creation standpoint. In neighboring Indiana, $2.5 million in tax revenue was generated from gaming in 2022 alone.

How does Lexington's stance on gambling impact the local economy?

Lexington’s stance on gambling negatively impacts the local economy, as casinos offer both revenue for the state and jobs for it’s citizens.

Are there any responsible gambling resources available in Lexington?

Yes, there are many responsible gambling resources available in Lexington, provided by the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling. You can visit them online at https://www.kycpg.org/, as well as over the phone at 502-223-1823. There are also national resources available via text (800GAM), live chat (1800gamblerchat.org) and phone (1-800-GAMBLER).