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Kentucky sportsbooks

Sports betting in Kentucky launched in September 2023, with in-person betting starting on Sept. 7 and online gambling launching three weeks later. With this guide to Kentucky online sportsbooks, you’ll be in the know and ready to go place your wagers.

Fact checked by: Gary Garry
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Top KY sportsbooks in May 2024

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Best Kentucky sportsbooks

As per the guidelines of HB 551, Kentucky has allotted a sports betting operator’s license for each of the state’s nine racetracks, and each of those tracks is permitted up to three skins.

While that won’t mean 27 different sportsbooks will arrive in KY, that allowance will allow for a competitive and balanced market. Here are some of the best Kentucky sportsbooks that have already launched (and one more that has been approved for operation).

🏀 DraftKings Sportsbook KY ⭐ Offical UFC partner with great loyalty program
🏀 bet365 Sportsbook KY ⭐ Offers live-betting lines with streaming after placing a wager
🏀 Caesars Sportsbook KY ⭐ Known for generous bonuses & top-tier loyalty program
🏀 FanDuel Sportsbook KY ⭐ Most popular in the U.S. & official partner of Kentucky Derby
🏀 Fanatics Sportsbook KY ⭐ Acquired PointsBet U.S. operations & targeting NFL 2024-25 season
🏀 BetMGM Sportsbook KY ⭐ Extension of MGM Casino & offers one of the best rewards programs
🏀 ESPN Bet Sportsbook KY ⭐ Loads of markets & big promo offers
🏀 Circa Sports Sportsbook KY ⭐ Great odds & no limits on high rollers

DraftKings Kentucky

DraftKings Sportsbook Kentucky

  • Welcome promo: Second Chance Bet Up To $1500

DraftKings Sportsbook obtained a license and was one of the first sports betting operators to go live in Kentucky.

DraftKings is one of the most popular betting platforms in the U.S. because DFS contests are legal even in many places where sports betting has not yet launched. The bookmaker also launched the DK Horse app in March 2023.

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bet365 Kentucky

bet365 Sportsbook Kentucky

  • Welcome promo: Bet $5 Get $150 in Bonus Bets

In addition to its many in-play betting lines, bet365 offers streaming of many sporting events after bettors place a live wager. With many promotions on the way, Kentucky bettors will want to be sure to add bet365 to their list of favorite betting sites.

One of the top features of bet365’s sportsbook is the vast number of live-betting lines, many of which come with the opportunity to stream events through the bookmaker’s site after placing a wager.

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Caesars Kentucky

Caesars Sportsbook Kentucky

  • Welcome promo: Second Chance Bet Up To $1000

Known for generous bonuses, top-notch customer service, and player-friendly lines, Caesars should have one of the larger Kentucky betting handles early on.

One of the best features of the sportsbook site is the ability to join Caesars’ loyalty program, which is among the best in the industry. The program grants players reward credits for every wager they place, which can be redeemed for betting credit, hotel stays, exclusive merchandise and memorabilia, event tickets, and much more.

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FanDuel Kentucky

FanDuel Sportsbook Kentucky

  • Welcome promo: Bet $5 Get $150 in Bonus Bets

By betting handle, FanDuel Sportsbook is the most popular sportsbook in the U.S. with a reported 36% market share in 2021; it is also legal in 22 states and counting.

FanDuel has a partnership with Churchill Downs and has positioned itself as the official sports betting partner of the Kentucky Derby. Like with DraftKings, FanDuel’s DFS background will only serve to work in the operator’s favor due to the brand recognition in the state.

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BetMGM Kentucky

BetMGM sportsbook Kentucky

  • Welcome promo: Second Chance Bet Up To $1500

An extension of the legendary MGM casino empire, BetMGM Sportsbook KY has become one of the top players in the sports betting landscape.

BetMGM features one of the best rewards programs available at any sportsbook, and the odds tend to be slightly more “juiced” towards the player than on other platforms. The bookie applied for a license in Kentucky with Sandy’s Racing & Gaming in Newport.

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ESPN Bet Kentucky

ESPN Bet Sportsbook Kentucky

Following Penn Entertainment’s sale of Barstool Sportsbook back to the controversial sports and entertainment company, the former forged a new partnership with ESPN to form ESPN Bet.

This seismic shift in the sports betting industry broke a month before Kentucky’s sports betting launch, so ESPN Bet wasn't one of the first sportsbooks in KY, but it marked the start of a “second wave” a few months after the initial launch with a November 2023 rollout. The new site put up impressive numbers during launch week and should continue to impress gamblers in Kentucky and across the country.

Fanatics Kentucky

Fanatics Sportsbook Kentucky

Fanatics Sportsbook completed its purchase of PointsBet Sportsbook’s U.S. operations in the summer of 2023 and plans to convert accounts and platforms at a rate of three states per month from August 2023 through May 2024.

The operator was granted a license in Kentucky and was able to roll out on launch day, an impressive feat given the magnitude of the conversion efforts. Fanatics' merchandise endeavors should provide steady financial backing for the sportsbook operation.

Circa Sports Kentucky

Circa Sports sportsbook Kentucky (coming soon!)

Circa Sports received a license from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC), making KY the fifth state where the operator has planned to launch. The bookmaker is already live in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, and Nevada.

Their physical sportsbook on the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Vegas is a spectacular venue for in-person betting and viewing. Circa is highly regarded in sports betting circles for its big-digit Super Bowl contests.

Yes, online sportsbooks are legal in KY. In-person sports wagering started on September 7, 2023, while online sports betting in KY was first permitted on September 28.

Kentucky could have as many as 27 sportsbook skins available in the state, but it is likely to operate with significantly fewer.

With that in mind, eight betting operators have thus far applied for and been granted a license: bet365 Sportsbook, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Circa Sportsbook, DraftKings, Fanatics, FanDuel, and Penn Sports (ESPN Bet).

Popular sports leagues to wager on in Kentucky

While there aren’t any teams from the “Big Four” sports leagues that play home games in Kentucky, bettors will no doubt flock to those markets anyway. Here are some of the popular sports leagues to wager on in Kentucky.

  • NCAA Basketball: Kentuckians love their college hoops. NCAA Basketball is the most-watched sport in the state, with most fans either siding with the University of Kentucky or the Louisville Cardinals (though we’d be remiss not to mention Bellarmine, Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, Murray State, Northern Kentucky, and Western Kentucky). The Kentucky legislature made the wise decision to allow betting on collegiate athletics, including for in-state teams, when approving HB 551, though this topic was one of the most contentious parts of the bill.
  • NFL: The NFL is the most popular sports league to bet on in the U.S., with around 50% of all sports bettors in 2022 placing a wager on the league. Fantasy football and DFS contests have only helped surge the popularity of NFL betting, and with the Bengals just over the state line, a majority of Kentuckians list Cincinnati as their favorite team.
  • MLB: Kentucky is the home of several minor league baseball teams, including the AAA Louisville Bats, the High-A Bowling Green Hot Rods, and Independent teams like the Florence Y’alls and Lexington Counter Clocks, the MLB will likely emerge as one of the top sports leagues for Kentuckians to bet on.
  • Horse Racing: While many sports betting operators will list their sportsbook and racebook separately, Kentucky is the center of the horse racing universe, with Lexington declaring itself the “Horse Capital of the World.” Bettors across the U.S. wagered more than $410 million on the 2023 Kentucky Derby races, and that number should only continue to rise.

How can I sign up for online bookies in KY?

How can I sign up for online bookies in KY?

The best Kentucky sportsbook will have a quick and straightforward signup process; most of the time, registration will only take around five minutes. Here’s how you’ll be able to sign up for online bookies in KY.

  1. Only use legal, licensed sportsbooks: If you aren’t using a legit sports betting operator, your personal and banking information will be at risk, and you’re not offered any legal protection in case you run into any issues. KYBetting.com will list all legal operators on this site, so check in here before signing up to ensure you’re in the clear.
  2. Use a promo/referral code: Using a promo code or referral code can help you secure a lucrative signup bonus to boost your chances of profitability on your first wager with a sportsbook. KYBetting.com will list promo codes and provide signup links once online betting platforms have launched.
  3. Provide an email address and phone number: By providing an email address and phone number to the sportsbook, you’ll be able to use two-factor authentication when logging into your account. Some sites will have you create a username as well, but many will list your email address as your username.
  4. Enter your personal information: Sportsbooks will require you to verify your identity to confirm that you aren’t prohibited from betting in Kentucky, and also to confirm that all winnings are sent to the right person. You’ll need to provide your legal first and last name, street address (P.O. boxes won’t be accepted), birth date, and the last four digits of your social security number. This information will be encrypted at all times during information and stored safely.
  5. Make a deposit with your preferred payment method: The final step before you can start playing is to make a real-money deposit. When choosing a deposit amount, make sure it covers the minimum requirement for any signup bonus offer. Most sportsbooks will accept credit and debit card deposits, online banking options, and e-checks, while some will also accept prepaid cards such as Play+, or e-wallets like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Venmo. Keep in mind that the easiest way to withdraw your winnings is often through the same method you used to make a deposit.

Different bet types on online sportsbooks in KY

Good betting platforms will offer a variety of betting types in addition to having a multitude of available leagues. Here are some of the more common bet types you’ll be able to find on online sportsbooks in KY.

  • Same game parlays: Same game parlays (often shortened to SGPs) involve combining multiple betting outcomes from the same sporting event into one wager with a multiplier for each outcome (or “leg”) as part of the event. For example, a basketball SGP might consist of four legs: how many assists the home team’s point guard will have, the point total of the away power forward, which team will be the first to score 10 points, and which team will lead at halftime.
  • Round robins: Round robin bets are a variation of parlay betting. They consist of three or more legs and allow you to bet on winning combinations rather than total outcomes. For example, a three-team parlay on Teams A, B, and C would require all teams to win to receive a payout. With a round robin, you’re essentially betting three two-team parlays with your bet (Team A+C to win, Team A+B to win, and Team B+C to win). Because of this, round robin bets often don’t pay out as often as standard parlays but can carry a higher probability or a return to the player.
  • Live bets: Also called “in-play betting,” live bets are wagers placed after the start of a sporting event. While live betting, odds will be constantly shifting as the action unfolds. An untimely penalty or an opportune score can lead to major differences in payouts, so successful live betting requires a keen understanding of gameflow and the ability to make a quick decision when the odds are favorable.
  • Totals bets: Usually listed as “Over/Under,” totals bets are wagers on the combined point total between two teams. This can be a great alternative if you aren’t having much success picking outright winners or picking against the spread. Paying attention to how the totals line action moves leading up to a game can also lead to major payoffs.

Types of promos offered on sportsbooks in Kentucky

Types of bonuses offered on sportsbooks in Kentucky

Operators will frequently offer KY sportsbook promos and bonuses to entice new players to register an account and to keep returning players coming back for more fun. Here are some of the main types of bonuses you’ll see offered on sportsbooks in Kentucky.

  • Boosted odds: Many sportsbooks have begun offering daily odds boosts for select wagers. Boosted odds bets offer a higher payout on winning wagers. Most of the time, this boost falls between a range of +25 to +100 on the given line, but in some cases, we’ve seen as high as +250 added to the line. Usually, you won’t need a promo code or referral link for this bonus; lines with boosted odds will often be listed in a separate section of the promotions tab of the browser or betting app.
  • Second-chance bets: Most commonly part of a welcome bonus, second-chance bets involve a “refund” in bet credits if your initial wager doesn’t win. Usually, a second-chance bet requires you to wager the same amount again using the full credit total, but sometimes the credit can be broken up over smaller wager amounts.
  • Bonus bets: Bonus bets are a variation of bet credit that comes at a predetermined amount, usually in increments of $10, $20, or $25, though the actual amount is at the sportsbook’s discretion. Some sportsbooks will allow you to play bonus bets as their own stake while others will require them to be added on to a real-money wager. They aren’t included in the payout total but they lead to a higher profit on a winning bet.
  • Parlay profit boosts: Similar to the odds boosts, parlay profit boosts give users an increased payout when their parlays hit. Parlays are already quite lucrative relative to the upfront cost, as the winnings multiply for each leg, so these boosts are usually capped at around $100. However, these profit boosts result in actual cash when you win and not just bonus credits that must be played through.

Tips when wagering on online sportsbook sites in KY

When done the right way, wagering on online sportsbook sites in KY can be a fun and profitable endeavor. However, bad habits and poor practices can quickly read to ruin. Here are some great tips you can use when wagering to be a more successful bettor.

  • Only bet within your limits: You may have heard the saying “don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.” This is sound advice, but oftentimes, those who hear it only think of the financial ramifications. Setting time limits in addition to monetary limits can be a great way to practice responsible gambling. If you’re on a run of losing bets, it’s far better to walk away, take a break, and reassess your betting strategies than to waste time and money trying the same thing to dig your way out of a hole.
  • Arm yourself with knowledge: The best type of bet to make is an informed bet. Reading event previews, studying betting trends, and developing an understanding of the matchups will only work in your favor. This is especially true when live betting, as you should only place an in-play wager on a game you are actively watching. Scorelines on their own can be misleading, and the box scores seldom tell the full story.
  • Standardize your bets with betting units: Another way to practice responsible gambling is to use a standard unit” when placing each wager. This way, you will have an easier time keeping track of your wins and losses over time. The amount of a unit can vary; some bettors use $10 or $20 as their unit while high-rollers may use $100 units (or more). You could also choose to bet a half-unit ($5 or $10 in the above examples). This also ties into our next tip to prevent you from chasing losses.
  • Shop the odds: There isn’t a rule in place that says you can only place bets at one sportsbook and none of the others. When getting ready to make a bet, shop the odds at multiple bookies the same way you would while researching any other purchase you would make and find the best deal. Even small differences in the betting odds can lead to big payoffs over time. There’s always hidden value to be found if you put forth the effort to look.

Payment methods that will be available at sportsbooks in Kentucky

One of the best ways to decide on a sportsbook is to look at the number of banking options you can use on the platform. Here are some of the popular payment methods that will be available at sportsbooks in Kentucky.

Deposit

  • Credit/Debit card: Using a credit or debit card is often a convenient way to finance your account. However, some sportsbooks will only let you use them to make a deposit. Furthermore, while Visa and Mastercard are almost universally accepted, other cards like American Express and Discover may not be permitted.
  • PayPal: PayPal is one of the oldest digital payment methods available, and that lengthy history compared to other e-wallets has led to this option being more commonly accepted at sportsbooks than contemporaries like Apple Pay or Venmo.
  • Online banking: Linking your bank account to your sportsbook account can usually lead to quick withdrawal times and simple deposits. It may take a little longer to get set up compared to other options, but you’ll also have less headache in the long run by not having to use multiple apps or reenter passwords with each transaction.

Withdrawal

  • Wire transfer: Using a wire transfer to withdraw your winnings isn’t as common of an option, as many sportsbooks have $1,000 minimums (or higher) to use this option. Your bank may also impose a fee for using it, but a wire transfer is arguably the most secure way to access your bankroll.
  • E-check or paper check: Similar to a wire transfer, you can request an e-check be sent to your account. This generally takes a bit longer than some of the other methods but is similarly secure. You can also request a paper check be sent to you through U.S.P.S.
  • Cash: Cash will only be available for in-person withdrawals. If you intend to use this method, you’ll need to have a government-issued photo ID with you or you won’t be able to access your winnings. This can also be an inconvenient option if you don’t live close enough to the track where the sportsbook operates.

Criteria we will use to rank online bookies in KY

KYBetting.com has reviews of each of the legal, licensed sportsbooks that operate in Kentucky so you can be informed of all the benefits, drawbacks, and features of a platform before you sign up. Here are the criteria we've used to rank online bookies in KY.

  • Welcome bonus: A generous welcome bonus can be the tipping point when deciding whether to sign up for a sportsbook. In evaluating the welcome bonus, we consider the financial “value” of the offer (in terms of bet credit amount and potential return to the player), the requirements to attain the maximum benefit (such as a high deposit or a high-stakes wager), and the timeline to use the bonus.
  • Payment options: In general, the more payment options a sportsbook has, the more player-friendly the platform tends to be in its operations. Bookmakers who have a wider variety of methods, as well as timely deliverance of withdrawals, will earn a higher score in this category.
  • Sportsbook app: Nearly 70% of all sports bets in the U.S. are placed from a mobile device. When assessing the quality of a sportsbook app, we consider the performance of the app, user reviews and ratings, the user experience players will encounter, and the app’s overall layout/design.
  • Variety and features: For this category, we take a look at the unique leagues/sports a bookie offers, the betting markets you’re able to play, the frequency and variance of promotions, and the other factors that set a platform apart from its competitors.
  • Customer support: Finally, we analyze the different customer support channels that are available as well as the service we received when testing for the reviews. Sportsbooks should strive to be as accessible as possible for their players, with information laid out in a comprehensive and easily-digestible manner

Pros and cons of online betting in KY vs. in-person betting

Pros and cons of online betting in KY vs. in-person betting

As mentioned above, the vast majority of sports bets are placed online, especially on mobile devices. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to both betting online and in-person. Here are a few of the pros and cons of online betting.

Pros

  • Online betting is Convenient: With online betting, you can place a bet from anywhere within the state lines. You don’t have to drive to a retail location to place a bet, then go back a second time to cash in a winning ticket. By the time you’ve factored in travel and time costs, you may have spent more than the payout is worth!
  • Online betting is Customizable: When using a betting app or web browser, you can customize the display to your personal preferences. You can also select your favorite teams, players, leagues, and sports to be more easily accessible
  • Online betting offers a better chance to shop odds: If you’re standing in line at the counter waiting to make your bet, the odds may have shifted and your wager may not be as valuable. Beyond that, you miss out on the chance to find a better deal on the odds at another sportsbook when you’re betting in-person.

Cons

  • Geolocation may run into issues: Online sportsbooks require location services to be turned on when the app is in use; otherwise, you won’t be able to place a wager. However, this technology isn’t perfect, and you may run into a performance bug with the app or browser that prohibits you from making your bets.
  • Payouts aren’t as prompt: When you’re betting in person, you can wait out the game at the sportsbook and collect your winnings as soon as the game is over with a cash payout. However, by betting online, you may need to wait as long as a week or more to have your winnings in hand.
  • There are fewer distractions when betting in person: How many times while reading this article did you stop to check your phone, answer your emails, or have a conversation with your significant other? Probably at least a few (we promise we’re not offended, and we’re almost done). When betting online, there can be loads of distractions that interfere with placing a wager that aren’t factors when gambling in-person.

FAQ

When did Kentucky sportsbooks go live?

Kentucky sportsbooks went live in September 2023. In-person betting launched on September 7 while online sports betting sites were first permitted to accept wagers on September 28. The in-person date allowed users to place bets ahead of the 2023-24 NFL season while online let users in on the action before college basketball season tips off.

Which sportsbooks are live in KY?

While this list is by no means final, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission licensed bet365, BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, ESPN Bet, Fanatics, and FanDuel, all of which have launched in the state. The KHRC also issued a license to Circa Sports but Circa hasn't yet announced a launch date in KY.

Are desktop bookies in Kentucky safe to use?

Yes, desktop bookies in Kentucky are safe to use, as long as you are using a verified, licensed bookmaker. Part of the process for sportsbooks to obtain licensure in KY is to show they can keep your information secure and protected at all times, and failure to do so will result in harsh penalties and license revocation. KYBetting.com will list all of Kentucky’s licensed sportsbooks on this site so you can easily reference whether a platform is legit.

Why do bookmakers in KY offer promos?

Bookmakers in KY offer promos as a way of encouraging potential customers to register with the sportsbook and to entice existing clientele to keep placing wagers on the platform.

Fact checked by: Gary Garry