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Churchill Downs Showing Interest In iGaming Market

Summary: Churchill Downs is expanding their empire into Pennsylvania and New Jersey, now showing interest in the online gambling industry.

Churchill Downs is focusing their gambling efforts on two new states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The company has now shown interest in developing online gambling sites with CEO Bill Carstanjen indicating that the company is considering iGaming in the two states.

Expansion In The Works

CEO Bill Carstanjen discussed an expansion of the brand in the two neighboring markets to investors last week. During the discussion, the CEO stated that Churchill Downs has plans to spend a modest amount in both markets during 2019 involving online gaming as well as sports betting.

During the conference call, Carstanjen stated that Churchill Downs like states that they believe will ultimately grant access to online gaming and sports betting via land-based license holders. The company already has an experienced team for online gaming. An objective of the team is to move beyond horse racing to sports betting and online wagering.

While Pennsylvania will not be launching online gaming in the near future, they should within a few months. Churchill Downs is still considering the option in order to move into a position to capitalize on the option.

The investment by the company in both markets will be dependent on several factors. This includes final regulatory approval, the seasonality of sports and the return the company will see on their investments. Churchill Downs does not currently have a casino in the state of New Jersey but they have signed an agreement with the Golden Nugget for an online gambling skin.

In New Jersey, the company is currently awaiting approval for their online application for an iOS app to be marketed within the Apple store. The approval must be given by Apple for the brand to proceed. For online gaming, the company has decided to partner with BetAmerica, set to offer online casino operations and sports betting via the brand.

Roll Out and Speculation On Other States

In Pennsylvania, Churchill Downs has plans to use BetAmerica for sports betting via the Presque Isle Downs. During the second quarter, the company has plans to open a sportsbook at the gaming venue. Churchill Downs just recently acquired the casino for just over $178 million. The company purchased the casino from Eldorado Resorts.

With the new Pennsylvania sportsbook, the casino will offer 1,275 square feet of wagering space. Players will be able to place bets via special kiosks, with as many as 50 set to be offered on-site. The space will also include 50 televisions for viewing sporting events.

On top of their Pennsylvania and New Jersey pursuits, Churchill Downs also reportedly has their eye on Illinois. The company met with the Illinois Gaming Board last week, gaining approval for an acquisition of the Rivers Casino involving 50.1% stake of the brand. An agreement was signed by Churchill Downs in October to the tune of $407 million that could see their share increase to around 62%.

With the acquisition in Illinois, Churchill Downs will be set if they decide to invest further. The state is considering an expansion of the gambling industry and if they are secure with the Rivers Casino, they will be set up to move forward as any expansion opportunities arise.

For years now, Illinois lawmakers have been considering expanding upon their existing gambling industry, but nothing has come to pass. However, now that democrats rule the roost, they may be able to pass a gaming package into law. The governor already has considered $271 million in his recent budget proposal from sports betting, even though legislation has not been passed yet.

If Illinois is able to pass online gaming and sports betting legislation, then Churchill Downs will most likely get into the industry as soon as they can via the Rivers venue.