Kentucky Poker Laws

Kentucky Poker Laws

Is Online Poker / Gambling Legal in Kentucky?

Though the Bluegrass State is home to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, as well as plenty of opportunities for bets on horse racing throughout the year, the state is hostile towards most forms of poker and other gambling. You can play legal poker in Kentucky, but as with many anti-poker states in America, there are lots of restrictions to legal poker games, and not following them to the letter can result in fines or even jail time. Kentucky is not usually on the short list of anti-poker American states, but it appears from their gaming law that the state government is generally opposed to all forms of wagering.

Is it Legal to Play Online Poker in Kentucky?

Online poker and Kentucky are not exactly on a friendly basis. Kentucky was among the first states in America to attempt to intervene with online gaming. Back in 2008, then-Governor Steve Beshear stated publicly that online poker and casino website are “ . . . leeches on our communities” that “ . . . unfairly undermine Kentucky’s horse racing industry.” Pretty strong words from the state’s highest office.

The state of Kentucky then attempted to take control of over one hundred and forty major gambling domain names, including the heavy hitters in the industry at the time:,, and Even though this attempt failed, the state of Kentucky remained strongly opposed to casino gambling online, though no laws yet exist that specifically make it illegal to play at such sites. If you have questions about Internet wagering in Kentucky, contact a legal professional.

Does Kentucky Have Legal Poker Rooms?

The state of Kentucky is traditionally very conservative, so it should be no surprise that organized gambling is opposed at the level of state government, mostly for moral reasons. Kentucky poker law is easier to read than many other states, because the same laws that limit home games and provide exceptions for social gambling apply to all other gaming in the state. If anyone profits from hosting a game of any kind, that game is illegal by state law.

Kentucky does not allow any casinos within state lines, which naturally means you won’t find a legal poker room either. The state of Kentucky could use a financial shot in the arm, and casino gaming would provide just that, but so far the state’s conservative politics have kept them from even considering the issue.
Now, Kentucky does allow churches, schools, and other charitable organizations to operate a few specific types of games of chance, and there is a long list of restrictions on how that works as well. If you want to play a game of chance in Kentucky that isn’t a bet on a horse race, you’re probably out of luck.

Learn About Other State Laws

Home Poker Game Laws in Kentucky

As is the case throughout America, some home poker games are legal and some are illegal. The single factor that the penal code applies to determine if your game is legit is whether or not you are “promoting gambling.” To read more about this, look up Section 528.030, which says a person is guulty of promoting gambling “ . . . when he knowingly advances or profits from unlawful gambling activity.” This offense is a Class A misdemeanor, not a very harsh penalty, but it’s still a legal headache. So don’t profit from your game and you’re in the clear, right?

Not quite. Any player in a home game who earns or loses more than $500 in a twenty-four hour period could be convicted of promotion of gambling in the first degree, slightly different from the promotion mentioned above. This type of crime is a Class D felony, which almost certainly will carry a jail sentence and hefty fines. The trick is to not host or play in any Kentucky poker game that will earn you (or cause you to lose) more than that amount of money. Also, if you rake the pot or charge any sort of fees to participate, you can be convicted of that same felony.

Check out state law 528.010: “A person who gambles at a social game of chance on equal terms with other participants does not otherwise advance gambling activity by performing acts, without remuneration or fee, directed toward the arrangement or facilitation of the game as inviting persons to play, permitting the use of premises therefor and supplying equipment used therein.” That’s a rock solid piece of legal mumbo-jumbo that clearly allows for some legal home card gaming.

More information about Kentucky`s poker laws and gambling laws is available here - [}