Can You Play Online Poker in Kentucky?
No. You cannot play online poker legally in Kentucky. Although the state has an active gambling tradition, it is mostly focused on horse racing and sports betting. Kentucky has largely distanced itself from online poker and other forms of gambling, leaving poker players in the state with very limited options.
Why Not? What Are the Online Poker Laws in Kentucky?
Kentucky has one of the strictest laws against playing online poker, which is ironic because the state has an active sports betting culture. Horse racing is a favorite pastime in Kentucky, and many residents bet actively on these races. Unfortunately for poker enthusiasts, the laws in the state are less favorable towards online gambling.
In fact, the state’s governor once declared outright war against poker, and in 2008, the domain names of many online poker providers in the state were seized. Although the crackdown against Kentucky online poker sites has abated in recent years, online gambling is still considered illegal. House Bill 511, which was passed in March 2023, made sports betting legal in the state. However, the legislation does not cover poker and other forms of online gambling.
There are a few (risky) options for poker enthusiasts living in Kentucky to explore as far as playing online poker for real money is concerned. Since the law only prohibits those who promote or advance gambling activities, poker players in the state don’t need to worry about getting in trouble with the law if they patronize offshore poker sites. But that doesn’t mean there are no risks.
Offshore sites are online poker platforms domiciled outside the United States. These sites are not affected by the restrictions against online gambling in Kentucky and federal laws.
Despite their obvious appeal, MyPokerCoaching does not recommend playing online poker on offshore sites. On these sites, players have no guarantees of enjoying a fair game since the sites are not bound by US laws and standard practices. There are also no legal measures to protect players from fraud or recover their money if the site shuts down suddenly.
Potential Kentucky Poker Sites to Launch in the Future
Poker has been popular in Kentucky for many years, but the state is still to regulate online poker sites. There have been several attempts at it over the years, but so far, none have come to fruition.
It is a pretty safe bet that online poker in KY will be regulated at some point in the future, so the only real question is when. While it’s hard to give any definitive answer at this point in time, we continue to monitor the situation and will keep you updated with any important developments.
When online poker is finally legal in KY, there are a few sites that we can expect to go live. These are all operators with a major presence in the regulated US market, and they’ll likely jump at the opportunity to expand their presence.
BetMGM Poker Kentucky
BetMGM has established itself as a household name in the regulated US online poker space, and the operator will likely be among the first to stake a claim in such an attractive new market.
We expect BetMGM Poker will bring out a platform similar to that in other states like PA, MI, and NJ. A poker client powered by the PartyPoker technology offers a modern and very reliable solution for all online poker fans, even if it is not as rich in functionalities as some other platforms.
In terms of game variety, players can look forward to a nice mix of online tournaments, a wide range of cash game stakes, and, in all likelihood, BetMGM Poker’s staple SPINS – a hugely popular sit & go variation featuring a random jackpot.
It is also likely that BetMGM Poker KY will come out of the gate swinging, offering a generous welcome bonus. With what’s likely to be heavy competition in the state, all sites will look for ways to stand out, and this is generally a good thing for the players.
Although the company couldn’t enter the US before 2016, PokerStars has established itself as a staple name of online poker in the country, just like they have done in the global market.
Once the regulation is finally passed, the launch of PokerStars is pretty much a guarantee. This is especially true if the state passes a law with the expectation of joining the MSIGA, as the operator seems eager to take advantage of opportunities provided by interstate poker.
But even without that particular element, KY is a big enough market on its own.
What PokerStars brings to the table is the operator’s experience in organizing major online series, first and foremost. US versions of ‘COOP events have been hugely successful in all states where the site currently has a presence, and there is no reason to think Kentucky would be an exception.
PokerStars also offers one of the best software solutions for desktop computers and mobile devices alike. This enhances the player experience and certainly helps push the site towards the top of the list when deciding where to play.
The third KY poker site likely to go live as soon as legal requirements are met is WSOP.com. Right now, WSOP is the only operator present in all regulated US markets with active poker sites, and the company is on the constant lookout for expansion opportunities.
WSOP.com has one trump card that no other operators can match, which is its ability to host bracelet-awarding events and exclusive satellites to live World Series of Poker tournaments. This has helped the operator remain competitive across the country.
A launch in a new state would likely mean an exclusive bracelet series, giving players in the state great opportunities to win some WSOP silverware from the comfort of their home, and if past experience is any indicator, this is an opportunity that players jump on.
WSOP should have no problem claiming its fair share of the new market despite competitors, with the operators’ numbers surging during major live and online events.