Introduction to Kentucky Slot Machine Casino Gambling
Kentucky slot machine casino gambling is essentially nonexistent. While casinos and gambling establishments are strictly illegal in Kentucky, it’s important to understand how the Commonwealth of Kentucky has defined and interprets “gambling” as:
“Gambling means staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest, game, gaming scheme, or gaming device which is based upon an element of chance, in accord with an agreement or understanding that someone will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”
Kentucky’s interpretation of gambling depends whether or not skill is a prevailing factor in the activity, and that the competitor’s level of skill “must sufficiently govern the results.” Therefore, competition-based games are legal including pari-mutuel wagering but, relevant to our interest as slots enthusiasts, slot machine casino gambling is illegal.
However, Kentucky currently has 1,720 competition-based electronic games available in a few of their pari-mutuel facilities, which might be of interest.
Historically speaking, Kentucky has had a fascinating relationship with gambling. While casino gambling was never legal, gambling dens were prevalent before the Great Depression of 1929. Much of this opening display of gambling was located in Newport, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, and included an element of organized crime. If ever in Newport, consider walking the historic Newport Gangster Tour.
This post continues the weekly blog series “Slot Machine Casino Gambling, State-By-State“, a year-long online resource project dedicated to guiding slot machine gambling enthusiasts to success.
Relevant Legal Statutes on Gambling*
The legal gambling age in Kentucky is 18 for individuals engaged in bingo, lottery, and dog/horse race betting. The legal age for gambling online is 21.
Individuals engaged in what Kentucky defines as illegal gambling generally have little or nothing to worry about, as Kentucky state law does not prescribe punishment if partaking of these “illegal” acts of gambling.
However, it is punishable to “advance gambling activity”, so operators of anything related to illegal gambling need to be careful. For example, gambling advertisements or otherwise inducing someone to gamble would be illegal and punishable. A more common example would be to host a poker game: This is legal only if no one is “induced” to play or if an individual directly benefits financially due to game rules, i.e., if the “house gets a cut of the action”.
Kentucky’s anti-gambling laws do not include gambling devices such as kiosks dispensing tickets at licensed pari-mutuel facilities.
Kentucky has a state lottery and also permits charitable games.
In 2010, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear generated a great deal of controversy with regards to online gaming. Because it is illegal to run a casino in Kentucky, the state felt compelled to enforce their anti-gambling laws against online casinos based outside of Kentucky at which citizens of Kentucky had lost money.
Per the ABC News Report, the lawsuit wasn’t written to return lost money to private citizens, but instead any recouped funds would be received by the state of Kentucky. The lawsuit specifically identified 141 online casinos, eventually seizing their domain names.
In 2015, Judge Thomas Wingate found in favor of Kentucky in its lawsuit, awarding Kentucky $870,000,000 in damages for violating Kentucky’s anti-gambling laws. Legal appeals set to contest the ruling began in January of 2016.
*The purpose of this section is to inform the public of state gambling laws and how the laws apply to various forms of gambling. This information is not intended to provide legal advice.
Slot Machine Private Ownership
It is legal to privately own a slot machine in Kentucky.
State Gaming Commission
The Department of Charitable Gaming is under the authority of Kentucky’s Public Protection Cabinet. Their mission is to:
- Provide a regulatory framework allowing charitable gaming to thrive as a viable fundraising mechanism
- Ensure the productivity of charitable gaming through appropriate regulation, oversight, and education
- Bluegrass Downs in Paducah, Kentucky
- Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
- Ellis Park Racino in Henderson, Kentucky
- Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky
- Kentucky Downs Casino in Franklin, Kentucky
- Red Mile Kentucky Harness and Historic Racing in Lexington, Kentucky
- Thunder Ridge in Prestonsburg, Kentucky
- Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky
Kentucky slot machine casino gambling does not exist. However, Kentucky holds the greatest prestige in the world with regards to pari-mutuel wagering, with tracks opening in 1875.
Kentucky is generating ongoing controversy in the online gaming industry, an activity considered illegal by state law, in part by attempting to recoup funds for the state from money lost by its citizens to online gaming.
While casinos have never been legal in Kentucky, historically this state has provided a significant contribution to the history of gambling. Illegal casinos and organized crime in Newport in northern Kentucky generated an enduring long-term negative perception of casino gambling still influencing Kentucky to this day as well as the nation as a whole.
- “Welcome”, Department of Charitable Gaming, Commonwealth of Kentucky, Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- “Kentucky Gambling Laws”, Gambling-Law-US.com, Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- “Kentucky Casinos”, World Casino Directory, Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- “Home”, KentuckyGaming.com, Retrieved October 7, 2017.
Other State-By-State Articles
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