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Could We See Online Gambling in Kentucky?

Added on: March 5, 2013

There is obviously going to be much discussion about whether online gambling could ever be licensed and regulated in the state of Kentucky, because while there has been much opposition to the existence of some of the industry leaders, no one can dispute that Kentucky is a center of at least one kind of gaming activity - pari-mutuel wagering that has traditionally been a staple of the economy in the Bluegrass State.

In 2008, Governor Steve Beshear, who ran for office on a platform of expanding gambling opportunities in the state, moved to confiscate the domains from online gambling operators who were doing business with Kentucky residents. It was unexpected and hit the industry hard. Of course, it was Beshear's objective to protect the interests that already existed in the state, namely the race tracks, for which he ideally wants to pave the way for casinos (known to many as "racinos").

Whether online poker or casino gambling could be a subject of regulation in Kentucky is anybody's guess. But there are things happening elsewhere that might have a certain kind of influence in that area. For example, in New Jersey, even though Governor Chris Christie vetoed a recent bill to legalize online gambling, he laid out specific groundwork by which it could get his signature, so as far as advocates for online gambling are concerned, it is actually closer to a reality.

If some of those parameters were applied to Kentucky, which has stalled somewhat when it comes to legalizing slots and other games for the racetracks, it would restrict any online gambling licenses to those entities that already have a license, i.e., pari-mutuel establishments like Churchill Downs, Kentucky Downs, Turfway Park and Ellis Park. That could mean significant revenue, and would legally keep online gambling operators from being permitted to do business with Kentucky residents.

Interstate wagering on horse racing and other pari-mutuels is already permitted, and Kentucky is in on the act, most prominently through TwinSpires, the online wagering site that is operated by Churchill Downs. In holding out for casino gaming at the location itself, Churchill Downs and Turfway Park have passed on Instant Racing machines, for the time being. But they might like the idea of having a casino that anyone within state borders could play remotely.