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MLS Betting in Kentucky: What are the Rules?

Kentucky ushered in regulated sports betting markets on March 31st 2023, so MLS fans in the state can place bets on their favorite teams from their homes and mobiles or in person at licensed outlets.

It hasn’t historically been a huge state for MLS fans though, let alone MLS betting, since it was only in 2023 that the the bluegrass state gained a team in the league.

This guide explores everything a Kentucky resident needs to know about MLS betting. We’ll cover the rules around who can bet and how, as well as which teams are connected to the state, but first, let’s look the history of sports betting in Kentucky.

Kentucky Sports Betting History

Despite one of the biggest horse races in the world, The Kentucky Derby, taking place there, sports betting has been mostly illegal in the state for many years.

Horse racing was a rare exception, with a 1978 law allowing people to bet on the event across state lines, and some states even amended their laws in 2000 to allow this over the phone or internet.

When MLS began in 1996 though, Kentuckians had no easy way to bet on the sport. They would realistically have to travel to an entirely different state in order to place a bet. They wouldn’t have many states to choose from either, since most had similar laws.

A state lottery was introduced in 1988, with Keno becoming legal in 2013, and online lottery sales appearing from 2016. However, it took a vote by the U.S Supreme Court in May of 2018 to really make a change.

The ban on sports betting across the country was lifted, leaving each state to make their own minds up about how they wanted to proceed. At this point, bills began to come up suggesting the legalization of sports betting, but it took years for anything to happen.

A bill was almost passed in 2022, but fell at the final hurdle, before HB-551 was signed in March 2023, getting through the State Senate by a 25-12 margin.

Retail sports betting began on the 7th September 2023, with online betting following on from September 28th.

Current Sports Betting Rules

Kentucky Betting Rules

So that’s how we got here, but how do things stand in the here and now?

Well, as the 34th state to do so, Kentucky may have been kind of late to legalize sports betting, but they have some of the most relaxed rules.

It is one of only a handful of states where 18 is the legal age to place a bet rather than 21, for example. That said, some sportsbooks will ask their customers to be 21 regardless of state law, since they operate throughout the US and want to keep things uniform.

Any MLS fans who happen to be travelling through will be pleased to know that you don’t need to be a Kentucky resident to bet there either.

Bettors can place wagers online using a desktop computer or via Kentucky sports betting apps, as well as in person at various retail outlets located at the horse racing tracks and speedways across the bluegrass state.

Operators pay 14.25% tax if supplying betting services online, or 9.75% tax if operating from a retail outlet.

Anyone reading this will be most interested in MLS betting opportunities, but it’s perfectly legal to bet on other sports in Kentucky too, including college games, although they draw the line at high-school fixtures.

Does Kentucky Have an MLS Team?

St Louis City SC Inaugural Kit

Kentucky is known more as a basketball loving state, but it is also home to the MLS side, St Louis City SC.

The team was set up in 2019 with the specific aim of joining MLS as an expansion team, building their soccer specific stadium and finalizing their bid for 2023 start.

They developed early rivalries with Sporting Kansas City and Chicago Fire, and Kentuckians really got behind the club, packing out the stadium for every home game. Safe to say a large number also bet on their team.

There are two other professional soccer clubs in the state too: Louisville City FC and Racing Louisville FC.

Louisville City play in the United Soccer League (USL) while Racing Louisville are a women’s team so play in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Betting markets will be available for these too, as well as other sports teams in the state at college level, although these tend to focus more heavily on basketball and football over soccer.