Introduction to Kentucky Slot Machine Casino Gambling in 2021
Kentucky slot machine casino gambling consists of six parlors offering pari-mutuel-based electronic gaming machines, four of which are at horse racetracks.
I’ve dedicated this weekly series to slot enthusiasts such as yourself as you master casino slots and win your way to success by using this State-By-State Online Resource to improve your slots gambling performance by reviewing your state’s slots gaming industry.
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Relevant Legal Statutes on Gambling in Kentucky
The minimum legal gambling age in Kentucky depends upon the gambling activity:
- Land-Based Casinos: 21
- Poker Rooms: Not available
- Bingo: 18
- Lottery: 18
- Pari-Mutuel Wagering: 18
Historically, Kentucky has had a fascinating relationship with gambling. While casino gambling was never legal, gambling dens were prevalent before the Great Depression of 1929. To this day, the open display of illegal gambling from that time in American history continues to negatively affect the perception of gaming in Kentucky.
Kentucky’s constitution prohibits Class III Vegas-style slot machines. In 2011, Historic Horse Racing (HHR) electronic gaming machines arrived in Kentucky. These gaming machines look like slot machines, but the results of each bet made are based on many past, anonymous, horse racing results from across the U.S.
Based on pari-mutuel wagering regulations for horse races, the HHR machines circumvented the constitutional prohibition against slot machines. In recent years, HHRs have become increasingly, some say wildly, popular.
Kentucky’s flourishing slots industry has recently come under scrutiny by state lawmakers. Why? Because most of the taxes generated by HHR machines go to horse industry funds and program.
Since 2011, HHR bets total $5.3 billion. About $80 million went to taxes, of which $51 million went to the horse industry. Only $29 million went to general tax revenue for the state.
While this $29 million may seem like a lot, Kentucky lawmakers noticed it’s substantially less than the tax revenue received from slot machine bets in other states.
These HHR machines revived the horse racing industry in Kentucky and manufacturers of these games are looking to expand across the U.S. And the Commonwealth of Kentucky has decided it wants a bigger piece of the pie.
For more details, see WDRB’s Top Story in its Sunday Edition from mid-2019, “Is Kentucky being ‘shortchanged’ on its ‘slots’?”
In February 2021, state lawmakers came to an agreement to push off a controversial tax revenue increase until 2022.
Slot Machine Private Ownership in Kentucky
In Kentucky, it is legal to own a slot machine privately.
Gaming Control Board in Kentucky
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) regulates skill-based games at pari-mutual racetracks in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
These devices are Historic Horse Racing (HHR) electronic gaming machines. In January 2021, the KHRC reported Kentucky offers 3,672 HHR machines, a nearly 20% increase from a year before.
Casinos in Kentucky
Kentucky has six commercial casinos with HHR electronic gaming machines.
The largest casino in Kentucky is Oak Grove Racing Casino Hotel with 1,300 gaming machines.
Commercial Casinos in Kentucky
There are six gambling establishments offering HHR gaming machines in Kentucky including:
- Derby City Gaming in Louisville, 74 miles west of Lexington on the Indiana border.
- Ellis Park Racing Gaming in Henderson, 105 miles northwest of Bowling Green.
- Kentucky Downs Gaming in Franklin, 29 miles south of Bowling Green.
- Oak Grove Racing Gaming Hotel, 59 miles northwest of Nashville on the Tennessee border.
- Newport Racing & Gaming, 86 miles north of Lexington on the Ohio River just across the state border from Cincinnati.
- Red Mile Gaming & Racing in Lexington.
Tribal Casinos in Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has no federally recognized American Indian tribes and, therefore, is unable to have tribal casinos.
Other Gambling Establishments
As an alternative to enjoying Kentucky slot machine casino gambling, consider exploring casino options in a nearby state. Bordering Kentucky is:
- North: Illinois Slots, Indiana Slots, and Ohio Slots
- East: West Virginia Slots
- Southeast: Virginia Slots
- South: Tennessee Slots
- West: Missouri Slots
Each of the links above will take you to my blog for that neighboring U.S. state to Kentucky.
Our Kentucky Slots Facebook Community
Are you interested in sharing and learning with other slots enthusiasts in Kentucky? If so, join our Kentucky slots community on Facebook. All you’ll need is a Facebook profile to freely join this closed Facebook Group community.
There, you can meet online and privately share your slots experiences with local slots enthusiasts about playing slot machines in Kentucky. Join us!
Payouts and Returns in Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky does not offer any theoretical payout limits on HHR gaming machines.
Calculate player win percentage by dividing Less: Return to Public by Total Handle starting on page 15. For January 2021, the monthly Player’s Win% for HHR machines were:
- State-wide: 91.1%
- Derby City: 90.9%
- Ellis Park: 90.6%
- Keeneland/Red Mile: 92.5%
- Kentucky Downs: 91.2%
- Newport: 90.2%
- Oak Grove: 90.9%
From this January 2021 report, Red Mile at Keeneland had the highest player win percent at 92.5% while Newport had the lowest at 90.2%.
Summary of Kentucky Slot Machine Casino Gambling in 2021
Kentucky slot machine casino gambling exists as competition based Historic Horse Racing (HHR) gaming machines where the results of bets are based on many past horse race results.
Annual Progress in Kentucky Slot Machine Casino Gambling
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