Kentucky Gaming

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Kentucky Gaming Law

In the state of Kentucky, gambling is defined in the following way:

"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 a great deal on something that is called the "Dominant Factor Test," which stipulates that for something not to be considered gambling, skill must be a prevailing factor in any activity, and that the competitor's level of skill, as well as those he or she is competing against, "must sufficiently govern the results." If something does not readily meet these standards, or is clearly allowed by the law, it is deemed to be illegal.

If you are an individual, i.e., a bettor, and you are engaged in such activity, there is really not a whole lot to be worried about, because the law does not prescribe punishment for people who are partaking in these "illegal" acts of gambling. However, if you are a purveyor of such entertainment; i.e., an operator of anything related to gambling, you are considered to be "advancing gambling activity." Let's take a look at their definition :

"A person "advances gambling activity" when, acting other than as a player, he engages in conduct that materially aids any form of gambling activity. The conduct shall include, but is not limited to, conduct directed toward the establishment of the particular game, contest, scheme, device, or activity involved; toward the acquisition or maintenance of premises, paraphernalia, equipment, or apparatus therefore; toward the solicitation or inducement of persons to participate therein; toward the actual conduct of the playing phases thereof; toward the arrangement of any of its financial or recording phases or toward any other phase of its operation. 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."

We guess that means they could conduct a poker game among friends at home, but they couldn't "induce" people to play what it considers to be illegal, which means they might not even be able to advertise something like, for instance, casino gambling or online gambling. Nor is there any allowance for running a poker game where in any way there is a rake taken for the benefit of an individual or entity.

As we obviously know, there are exceptions in Kentucky's anti-gambling laws. One of the legal "gambling devices" is a pari-mutuel machine as it dispenses tickets at a licensed race track, like Keeneland or Churchill Downs. Another is a pinball machine designated for "amusement only" that can give away free games, up to a limit of thirty. A carve-out is also provided for in the case of "charitable gaming," which includes bingo, raffles, scratch-off type tickets with the benefits going to charitable organizations but does not allow for the use of slot machines, video gaming terminals or live horse racing in the pursuit of such activities.

Online gambling is quite obviously illegal in Kentucky, but since horse racing is based in a pari-mutuel system, online bets are allowed, and that has led to the unveiling of Twin Spires, a site at which thoroughbred racing enthusiasts can open up online accounts and bet right into the pool at Churchill Downs.