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Kentucky off-track betting

Kentucky is the epicenter of U.S. horse racing, but standalone off-track betting has effectively shut down statewide. On this page, we’ll explain why this is the case and if OTB could make a comeback.

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Kentucky is one of the biggest states for horse race betting in the U.S., and not just during the Kentucky Derby. Keeping up with New York and California in terms of betting pool amounts despite a much smaller population, with off-track betting (typically shortened to OTB) as one of the main ways of keeping up with competitors.

In this piece, we’ll explain how off-track betting works, where in Kentucky and the surrounding area you can find off-track betting sites, and offer some advice when making OTB wagers.

What is off-track betting?

Off-track betting is a term that refers to all betting activity that takes place away from the race track. This typically includes betting on simulcast races that are held at other tracks around the world, but it can also include wagering on historical horse racing (HHR) machines that run replays of past races.

Parlors offering off-track betting historically haven’t been allowed to operate within 60 miles of a racetrack. In some states, OTB locations have partnered with sports gambling operators to house a bookmaking service as a way of supplementing the fees taken as a percentage of OTB gambling winnings to generate revenue.

Are there any off-track betting locations in Kentucky?

No, there are no standalone off-track betting locations in Kentucky. OTB facility operations shut down in the state in 2013 following several years of decline in betting handle at the facilities, as well as gamblers preferring to place their wagers at the track or online. Online racebooks have cut into revenue as well, though they have helped grow the Kentucky horse race betting industry as a whole by increasing gambler accessibility.

However, you can sometimes find simulcast racing offered at racetracks as a form of off-track betting, carrying races that aren’t run at that same track. For example, if you’re wagering in person at Churchill Downs, you may be able to place a bet on a horse race in a different part of the country or an international race.

Tips if off-track betting locations reopen in Kentucky

If off-track betting locations reopen in Kentucky, we recommend you consider the following tips to help enhance your profitability or limit your losses.

  • Study horse histories when preparing to bet: Knowledge is power in horse race betting, and the more information you have at your disposal, the better position you’ll find yourself in when making OTB wagers. Knowing lineages, recent finishing positions, and how horses worked with track and weather conditions can give you an advantage.
  • Find a balance between betting favorites and underdogs: In analyzing horse races across the U.S., horses that are the favorite or second-favorite have won races somewhere between 44-52% of the time. This means 48-56% of the time, the winning horse will come elsewhere from the field. By balancing which favorites and underdogs you add to your betting slip, you can achieve better betting value when making your picks.
  • Know the trainers and jockeys: Trainers and jockeys have a major impact on a racer’s ability to perform on race day. In many cases, they’re working with multiple horses at the same time and could have 10 or more horses under their guidance for a given event. Studying the trends of jockeys and trainers can be even more valuable than knowing how the horse has finished in the past, especially if the horse has recently changed either of these important figures.
  • Set budgets for your money and time: After you’ve done all your prep, show up to the OTB facility with a plan for how long you’ll stay at the facility and how much money you’re willing to spend on the races. It can be easy to get distracted by the atmosphere of the facility, to push your luck after a series of wins, or to chase losses if you don’t go into the parlor with a disciplined, responsible approach.

FAQ

Why aren’t there any OTB locations in KY?

There aren’t any OTB locations in KY because the off-track betting sites weren’t seeing long-term profitability. After years of continued decline in horse race betting handle, Kentucky shut down its OTB locations in 2013 and has not pursued expansion since. However, there are two facilities that offer simulcast racing: Newport Racing and Gaming in Newport and Derby City Gaming in Louisville.

Will any OTB locations open soon in Kentucky?

No, there are no OTB locations set to open soon in Kentucky. Off-track betting locations have shut down throughout KY, and even with the recent legalization of sports betting in the state, it seems unlikely that new OTB facilities would pursue such gambling avenues.

How do Kentucky residents participate in horse race betting without OTB?

Kentucky residents can participate in horse race betting without OTB by downloading a horse race betting app, logging onto a licensed horse race betting website, or visiting a racetrack to place a wager in person.

Can I bet on horse racing online in Kentucky?

Yes, you can bet on horse racing online in Kentucky. Online horse race betting can be done on a gambling website or through a mobile app. For a full list of licensed online horse race betting operators, visit KY Betting.

What are the legal options for betting on horse races in Kentucky?

The legal options for betting on horse races in Kentucky are in-person at the racetracks, online through a website or mobile application, or to wager on simulcast racing. Off-track betting facilities are unavailable in KY.

Are there any horse racing tracks in Kentucky where I can bet on races?

There are six horse racing tracks in Kentucky where you can bet on races: Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ellis Park in Henderson, The Mint Gaming Hall in Corbin, Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel in Oak Grove, The Red Mile in Lexington, and Turfway Park Racing & Gaming in Florence.

What is the Kentucky Derby, and can I bet on it within KY?

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most prolific horse races in the United States and is the first leg of thoroughbred racing’s “Triple Crown.” Persons who are at least 18 years of age and physically within KY’s borders are permitted to wager online or at an approved simulcast racing facility.

Are there any neighboring states where OTB is available to Kentucky residents?

Yes, several of Kentucky’s neighboring states have made OTB facilities available. You can find off-track betting parlors in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Missouri and Tennessee do not have OTB parlors.