A name synonymous with American horse racing excellence has decided to expand into a new age of gambling in the United States. In the midst of a hectic week that began with the Supreme Court striking down a 1992 federal ban on sports betting, Churchill Downs Incorporated has announced it will partner with Golden Nugget Atlantic City.
The move signals that the parent company of the Kentucky Derby racetrack is ready to take advantage of the ruling. The company also announced it would be partnering SBTech which according to CNBC is a move “to utilize the integrated technology platform for its new gaming operations.”
Churchill Downs' agreement with Golden Nugget will allow it to offer not only sports betting but online gambling in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Mississippi is another target, but only for sports betting currently. The company has a presence in each of those states and all three are expected to offer sports betting in the coming months.
Churchill Downs, which could potentially offer these expansions in the first quarter of next year, evolved from the world famous original Louisville racetrack into a publicly traded gambling behemoth in the US. The online gambling part of the deal will only add to the portfolio of the nation’s leading internet wagering company.
Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs, said in an interview with CNBC that the company is looking forward to the exciting possibilities offered by the SCOTUS decision and the new partnership with Golden Nugget.
“We are looking forward to offering integrated iGaming and sports betting products in New Jersey. We have the unique opportunity to leverage our knowledge and experience operating the largest legal online horse racing wagering business in the U.S. as we enter the iGaming and sports b etting markets.”
Being one of the main players in a rapidly approaching game-changing era for US gambling, Carstanjen has plenty of reason to be optimistic.
”We are confident that our strategic partnership with SBTech provides us with an industry leading platform to offer innovative and exciting, integrated iGaming and sports betting products. We have the unique opportunity to leverage our knowledge and experience operating the largest legal online horse racing wagering business in the U.S. as we enter the iGaming and sports betting markets.”
Currently it’s up to state governments in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Mississippi to provide the legislative framework for operations. New Jersey is ready to go, however, and the Keystone and Magnolia States are primed to follow suit according to reports.
As for the home state of the company, Kentucky still has a ways to go in terms of reaching New Jersey’s status. One glimmer of hope was offered by Governor Matt Bevin in the wake of the ruling and the recently record-breaking running of the Derby.
“Sports betting has happened since the dawn of time. People have always done it. It’s done – heck, we just came off a weekend in which it happened at a pretty prolific rate here in Kentucky,” Bevin said, referring to the Derby. “So ultimately, what it means to us as a state policy-wise, it’s way too early to tell.”
It was reported Wednesday that shares in Churchill Downs have risen by more than 10% and could break records this week. In the same week that UK bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair was reportedly interested in and close to purchasing FanDuel, the move by Churchill Downs only continues to fuel the changing shape of US gambling.