I started out to write an article entitled "A brief history of gambling in Kentucky". I wanted to define what once was and when it became illegal. The history books were a bust as gambling in Kentucky was always mentioned very briefly. Finding any definitive information was next to impossible.
The 1890 Kentucky Constitution banned all lotteries and lottery like endeavors but never mentioned other forms of gambling. Allow me to quote from it:
It is my belief at this time that they intended to ban all commercial gambling within the commonwealth. My reasoning is detailed in the article Are Casinos Banned?.Before we take a look at state law let's take a quick look at Federal law on the suject of gambling. Federal law defines illegal gambling activity or 'illegal gambling business' as:
For all practical purposes Federal law is subordinate to state laws on the subject of what is an illegal gambling activity. When we take a closer look at the Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 528 we find the answers.
KRS 528.010 Section(3) defines gambling as "....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.". This is a fairly standard definition and pretty much parallels other states and the Federal definition.
What I found is that gambling is Kentucky is not and probably never has been illegal on a state wide basis provided you are acting in the capacity of a player. The state has never targeted players as a means of enforcement and has even gone so far as to say that the claim of being a only a player is a valid defense from prosecution.
The promotion or promoting of gambling is a violation of existing statutes (as Amended 1994). The legal term and definition is "Advancing gambling activity". This situation occurs when one acts in a capacity other that that of a player and is promoting the activity. It is this section, if not the state constitution, that keeps the casinos at bay and out of the state.
Chapter 528 goes on to discuss what is bookmaking and bookies but we are not interested in those items for this article.
 KRS 528.010 Section (1)
(1) "Advancing gambling activity" -- 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 therefor; 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.
 KRS 528.010 Section (3)
3) (a) "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. A contest or game in which eligibility to participate is determined by chance and the ultimate winner is determined by skill shall not be considered to be gambling.
Are Casinos Banned by Kentucky Constitution?
At various times while researching these articles I leaned in different directions with regard to casino gambling and whether or not it is, is not or ................
Horse, Harness & Off Track Betting
Kentucky has plenty of gambling action if you like horse and/or harness racing or off track betting on either of them. Here is a list of the tracks. C................
How to Leave a Casino Feeling Happy
Winning in a casino does not necessarily mean leaving with pockets full of money; it is about going home 'not broke' or further in debt. We have all ................
Kentucky Historical / Instant Racing Locations
Instant racing or historical race wagering is an electronic gambling system that allows players to bet on replays of horse races or dog races that hav................