The Chess Game Begins: Churchill Downs Maneuvers for Position in New JerseyBy Robert H. Mann | Published: May 16, 2018 at 12:28 pm
Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI), the casino and gaming company that also owns and operates Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, moved rapidly Wednesday to enter the realm of national sports wagering with its announcement that it has joined with Golden Nugget Atlantic City to offer legal sports betting and online gaming markets.
The move follows a confirmation statement Tuesday from Paddy Power Betfair (PPB), that the major United Kingdom-based wagering concern is in discussions that could produce a potential combination of the PPB’s U.S. businesses and FanDuel, the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) company. The combined business would join forces to target the prospective U.S. sports betting markets as they become legal.
PPB said, in response to a report in Legal Sports Report, that “Discussions are ongoing and there is no certainty as to whether agreement will be reached, or as to the terms or timing of any transaction. A further announcement will be made as appropriate.”
In Day Three Post-PASPA, Churchill Downs Fights for Position With Move Into NJ Sports Betting, Finding Partner in Atlantic City
PPB is the owner of TVG, the horse-racing television network and advance deposit wagering service that goes along with it. A more recent company acquisition is Draft, the distant third-place company to DraftKings and FanDuel in the DFS marketplace. Through its Betfair operation, the company also offers exchange betting on horse racing and runs an online casino gambling platform in New Jersey.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the law banning single-team sports wagering nationally, except Nevada, is unconstitutional setting off a flurry of industry activity.
Because DFS leaders DraftKings and FanDuel have no physical sports wagering locations and because such locations may be required as various states draft sports betting laws, both were expected to seek out partners to enter the legal sports wagering markets. Both DraftKings and FanDuel are attractive to suitors because of their significant number of customers, believed to be in the millions, as well as the e-mail addresses that go along with them.
Churchill Downs said it hopes to begin accepting legal wagers for sports betting and online gaming in New Jersey during first quarter 2019.
The Louisville, Kentucky-based, publicly traded company also announced a partnership with SBTech to utilize its integrated technology platform for its new gaming operations.
Churchill Downs said, as had been surmised, that it would join the sports wagering market in Pennsylvania through its recent acquisition of Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie. The northeastern Pennsylvania city is nearly equidistant from both Buffalo (94 miles) and Cleveland (102 miles) and could become a major sports betting center, should New York and Ohio fail to move quickly, if at all, into the sports wagering marketplace.
In Mississippi, Churchill Downs said it would use its two existing brick-and-mortar casinos in Greenville and Vicksburg, to offer on-site sports betting. Mississippi is expected to be among the first states to offer sports betting in an effort to siphon business away from Florida and Louisiana, two neighboring states expected to lag behind in adopting the new laws needed to offer it.
Industry observers note that SBTech, a major international gaming and sports wagering technology company, can quickly provide Churchill with a U.S.-centric iGaming platform to manage iGaming and sports wagering.
Churchill Downs is expected to offer branded products separate from its twinspires.com advance-deposit wagering business to iGaming and betting customers. SBTech may also begin a complete overhaul of the advance-deposit wagering platform for twinspires.com, industry observers believe.