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Kentucky is not a gambling-friendly state by any means. Actually, it could have some of the strictest laws around gambling in the entire country.

That being said, Kentucky does have minimal options for those looking to press their luck, including the famously known Kentucky Derby.

Horse racing is legal in the Bluegrass State, as well as the state lottery.

Is online gambling in the future of Kentucky? And how did the state become so strict towards gambling in the first place? We break it down and more in our Kentucky gambling guide below.

Online Casinos in Kentucky

Although Kentucky has a long tradition with horse racing, it has not legalized casinos (online or otherwise).

There have been limited discussions of legalizing online casinos, but it seems unlikely that we'll see online casinos offered there in the foreseeable future.

Kentucky does have a state lottery, which can indicate an openness to other forms of betting.

The nearest online casinos will be in West Virginia, which has already approved legislation. Tennessee has recently approved online sports betting.

But, you can still register with a legal online casino while you're in Kentucky.

Closest Casino To Lexington Ky

That means you can get the casino's bonus offers or deposit, and then play whenever you're in states where it's legal (even in a layover at the airport). (Do be aware of the casinobonus's expiry date, though.)

The only forms of legal online gambling in the state include the lottery and pari-mutuel betting.

Land-Based Casinos in Kentucky

The most common type of gambling offered is pari-mutuel betting on thoroughbred horse racing at the 10 racetracks located throughout the state.

The most famous horse race offered in the state is the Kentucky Derby, which has been run annually since 1875.

The Kentucky Derby is always run at Churchill Downs on the first Sunday in May.

A festival is also held each year for two weeks before the race in Louisville, where the track is located. Louisville is also the state's largest city.

There are three racetrack casinos in Kentucky that offer some form of casino gambling. There are no traditional slot machines in Kentucky casinos. Instead, they all offer instant racing bettingmachines.

While these machines may appear to be regular slot machines, they are actually gaming machines that are based on unidentified past horse races and the spinning reels shown on the machinesare for entertainment purposes only.

Those instant racing machines are the only types of casino gambling offered in Kentucky casinos. You will not find any table games offered at the casinos in Kentucky.

Types of Casinos in Kentucky

There are no traditional casinos in Kentucky.

Residents have numerous racetracks to choose from, as explained above.

List of Racetracks in Kentucky

Click on any of the race tracks below to learn more about them.



Closest casino to lexington ky


Derby City Gaming

Closest Casino To Lexington Ky Map

  • 4520 Poplar Level Rd, Louisville, KY 40213
  • +1 502-961-7600
  • Games: Instant racing betting machines

Ellis Park

  • 3300 US-41, Henderson, KY 42420
  • +1 812-425-1456
  • Games: Instant racing betting machines

Kentucky Downs

  • 5629 Nashville Rd, Franklin, KY 42134
  • +1 270-586-7778
  • Games: Instant racing betting machines

Red Mile

  • 1200 Red Mile Rd, Lexington, KY 40504
  • +1 859-255-0752
  • Games: Instant racing betting machines

Churchill Downs

  • 700 Central Ave, Louisville, KY 40208
  • +1 502-636-4400
  • Games: Instant racing betting machines
  • Hosts the Kentucky Derby

Turfway Park

  • 7500 Turfway Rd, Florence, KY 41042
  • +1 859-371-0200
  • Games: Instant racing betting machines

Keeneland

  • 4201 Versailles Rd, Lexington, KY 40510
  • +1 859-254-3412
  • Games: Instant racing betting machines

Kentucky Land-Based Casinos Map

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Kentuckians have never had a plethora of options when it comes to where to ski or snowboard in the state. Ski Butler, at General Butler State Park in Carrollton, was the state’s only proper ski area but when it shut down in the 90s, winter-sports-loving Kentuckians had to look outside of the state to get their fix. Check out our list below and find some of the best ski resorts near Kentucky.

We’ve included ski resorts that are six or less hours from Central Kentucky. You’ll find them in nearby areas such as Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

We’ve listed the resorts by the state they are located in and then in order of distance from Lexington. However if you are from other parts of Kentucky, some of the resorts will obviously be closer than other. If you’d like to jump to a specific state’s listings, please click the links below.

Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina

Ski Resorts in Indiana

Perfect North Slopes (~1.5 hours from Lexington)

Skiing, snowboarding, terrain parks, ski and snowboard school

The closest ski area to central Kentucky, Perfect North Slopes is quite popular in the area. It’s best known by many in the skiing world as the place where notable Olympic Freestyle skier Nick Goepper got his start. He grew up nearby and spent many days skiing all day in preparation for his Olympic career. There’s a main lodge with a small cafeteria and ski and snowboard shop. The tubing run is adjacent to the main ski area and has 23 lanes of 750-feet tubing runs.

19074 Perfect Lane, Lawrenceburg, IN 47025, 812-537-3754

Paoli Peaks (2.5 hours from Lexington)

Skiing, snowboarding, terrain parks, tubing, night skiing, ski and ride school

Paoli Peaks is an Indiana favorite it offers something for skiers of all levels including a beginner area as well as more difficult trails. There’s also two terrain parks, a halfpipe and a tubing hill. The 17 runs are accessed by 8 lifts and tows. The resort has impressive snow-making equipment to ensure visitors will have plenty of snow whenever they visit. The top of the hill has a 45,000 square foot day lodge with a bar, cafeteria and pizzeria as well as equipment rentals and a ski patrol station. Paoli Peaks is one of the only resorts in the area to offer extensive night skiing. They are open until after dark most nights and until after midnight on many weekends.

They also offer tubing at their Arctic Blast lodge on site. It has a 700 foot run with 10 lanes. It is also equipped with a surface-carpet to take you back up the hill.

2798 W. County Road 25 S, Paoli, IN 47454, 812-723-4696

Ski Resorts in Tennessee

Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park, Tennessee (3.5 hours from Lexington)

Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, indoor attractions, snow tubing, rentals.

Year around attractions including a scenic ride on the tramway up the smoky mountains and indoor ice skating.

Ober Gatlinburg sits in the mountains overlooking the popular vacation town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It contains a variety of attractions including a shopping mall, indoor amusements, an ice skating rink, concessions, a full-service lounge, restaurant and more. There are 10 ski trails, a terrain park and 3 chair lifts. It is the only ski resort in Tennessee and quite popular as it is one easiest to reach from much of the southeast United States. There’s a multi-lane snow tubing hill where riders can slide down snow chutes on inflatable bobsleds and ride back up on a “Magic Carpet.” There are instructors available and ski lessons are mandatory if it’s your first time on the slopes.

1001 Parkway Suite 2, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, 865-436-5423

Ski Resorts in West Virginia

Winterplace Ski Resort, WV (3 hr, 45 min from Lexington)

Lexington

90 skiable acres, 28 trails, 603 ft. vertical drop Skiing, snowboarding, terrain park, tubing park

Billed as the “Most accessible, affordable ski resort in the Southeast,” Winterplace Ski Resort is the southernmost ski resort in West Virginia. It is quite popular due to its proximity to I-77. Here, skiing and snowboarding are offered in a beginner-friendly mountain setting with rustic accommodations. Night skiing is also available on 23 runs. The resort is also home to the largest snow tubing facility in West Virginia.

100 Old Flat Top Mountain Road, Ghent, WV 25843, 304-787-3221

Snowshoe Mountain, WV (5.5 hours from Lexington)

256 skiable acres, 57 trails, 14 lifts, 1500 ft. vertical drop Ski School, Tube Park, Snowmobile Tours

Snowshoe is a name well-known among east-coast snow lovers and is truly one of the best ski resorts near Kentucky. It is the largest winter resort in the mid-Atlantic and offers something for someone of every level. Expert skiers can hit up the two black diamond trails in the Western Territory, while first timers can enjoy the beginner area. It is one of the most well-developed resort areas in the state with extensive lodging options, gourmet dining, shopping, wedding and convention facilities and a luxurious spa all within your reach from the resort. The ski resort also sits at the second highest point in the state and has one of the longest vertical drops of any ski resort on our list.

10 Snowshoe Drive, Snowshoe, WV 26209, 877-441-4386

Canaan Valley Resort, WV (5 hr. 45 min from Lexington)

47 trails, 5 lifts, 850 feet vertical drop, terrain park, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing

As the first commercial ski development in West Virginia, Canaan Valley Resort specializes in outdoor recreation and they have 47 slopes and a 1,200 foot tubing park to prove it. There’s all sorts of trails with everyone from easy “bunny” hills up to runs with an 850-foot vertical drop. There’s several on-site restaurants for when you need to refuel as well as luxurious accommodations right on site.

230 Main Lodge Road, Davis, WV 26260, 800-622-4121

Ski Resorts in North Carolina

Cataloochee Ski Area, NC (4.5 hours from Lexington)

50 skiable acres, 18 trails, vertical drop 740 feet, terrain park, tubing, rentals, ski and ride school

Cataloochee Ski area is a small ski area which is the closest in North Carolina to Central Kentucky. It also is one of the first mountains in the area to open each year as it is usually open by early November. The mountain has 18 trails which are fairly equally divided between beginner, intermediate and advanced. All of the slopes have lights for night use. There’s also a multi-lane tube park nearby at Tube World in Maggie Valley.

1080 Ski Lodge Road, Maggie Valley, NC 28751, 828-926-0285

Beech Mountain Resort, NC (5 hours from Lexington)

95 skiable acres, 17 trails, 8 lifts and tows, vertical rise of 830 feet, skiing, boarding, ice skating, tubing, terrain park

If you are all about altitude, check out Beech Mountain Resort, as it is the highest ski area in Eastern America. There’s also a freestyle terrain park for those looking to get some air during their day on the powder. In addition to hitting the slopes, the resort has a tube park and an Alpine Village offering ice skating, a game room, a retail shop, ski repair and rentals, a brewery, snack shop and coffee shop.

1007 Beech Mountain Pkwy, Beech Mountain, NC 28604, 800-438-2093

Sugar Mountain Resort, NC (5 hours from Lexington)

115 skiiable acres, rentals, ski and ride school, terrain park, snow tubing, ice skating

Sugar Mountain Resort is tucked away in the Pisgah National Forest in the North Carolina high country. It offers plenty of snow-filled fun with skiing, snowboarding, tubing, ice skating and snowshoeing tours all available. There’s a ski and snowboard school that offers lessons for all ages and ability levels as well as a base lodge with amenities and live music on some days. The lift lines here get busy in the afternoons so you are best to get there early if you don’t want to wait in the long lines.

1009 Sugar Mountain Drive, Sugar Mountain, NC 28604, 828-898-4521

Scaly Mountain Outdoor Center, NC (5 hours from Lexington)

Snow tubing, ice skating (some years), lodge with amenities

Scaly Mountain Ski Area is a warm, family-friendly resort offering snow tubing and ice skating (in the 2019-2020 season they are only offering tubing). They have a ski lodge that faces all of the slopes where parents can take a break and still keep an eye on their kids while they are tubing. There’s concession stand serving beverages and snacks as well as a large wood-burning stove to cozy up beside.

7420 Dillard Road, Scaly Mountain, NC 28775, 828-526-3737

Wolf Ridge Ski Resort (5 hours from Lexington)

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65 skiable acres, 15 trails, 4 ski lifts, lodge with amenities, terrain park

This seasonal ski resort is conveniently located just off of I-26 in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. The resort has refined, townhouse style accomnodations and offers “Stay and Ski” packages as well as an indoor pool and hot tub for relaxing after a long day on the mountain. You’ll find ski runs of a variety of levels as well as a terrain park with a range of exciting features for various skill levels. Make sure to pause at the top and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

578 Valley View Circle, Mars Hill, NC 28754, 828-689-4111

Hawks Nest Tubing, NC (5 hours 15 min from Lexington)

Tubing park, 30 tubing lanes, night tubing

Casino

This one doesn’t have ski slopes, but for those who love tubing, this is one of the best places around to have a fun-filled day of tubing. Here, you will find the largest tubing park in North Carolina and, in fact, the entire east coast. Four different tubing areas offer a total of 30 lanes of fun. The runs range from 400-1000 feet long and are serviced by 2 moving carpet lifts. The entire park has lights so your tubing fun doesn’t have to end at sun down.

Closest Casinos To Lexington Ky

2058 Skyland Drive, Seven Devils, NC 28604, 828-963-6561

Appalachian Ski Mountain, NC (5.5 hours from Lexington)

27 skiable acres, Vertical drop 365 ft., 11 ski trails, 5 lifts, night skiing, terrain park, ski and ride school

Closest Casino To Lexington Ky

If you want to learn how to ride terrain parks, this small resort is one of the best places in the area you can go. It is the only resort in southeastern ski area that advertises terrain park instruction and is also home of the French Swiss Ski College which trains everyone from military professionals to ski patrol how to ski, so the instruction standards here are top-notch. The small resort is family-owned and operated and is completely geared toward family fun and has everything you need for a good time on the slopes including equipment rentals and a slopeside restaurant offering 3 meals a day. The resort is nationally known for its snowmaking capabilities and at peak times they can have a snow base upward of 100 inches, which rivals that of many western resorts.

940 Ski Mountain Road, Blowing Rock, NC 28605, 828-295-7828

Ski Clubs in Kentucky

Closest

Just because Kentucky doesn’t have any proper ski resorts doesn’t mean that Kentuckians aren’t into winter sports. If you are hoping to join with others that share your passion for the powder, check out the ski clubs around Kentucky Join in with others who enjoy playing in snow for trips, events and meetings and socials.