Churchill Downs Makes Historic Move into US Gaming

May 25, 2019

The Churchill Downs Racetrack: Photo by Kybluegrass


Following on from the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overrule the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which blocked real money sports betting in certain states, racing giants Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) will formally enter the U.S. iGaming market this year.

The parent company of the Churchill Downs racecourse, the home of the renowned Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) is one of the largest global companies operating within the verticals of horse racing and casino entertainment. The company will now be able to expand its sports betting and iGaming offering into the New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets as well as extending brand new sports betting services in the state of Mississippi (pending the finalization of regulations in the state) thanks to this new decision.

CDI is currently one of the two leading operators of advance-deposit wagering within the U.S., which has primarily been the most widely available form of online sports betting within the country. The company also owns six casinos as well as off-track betting facilities in multiple states. However, it will need to rely on a fresh new strategic partnership with SBTech to ensure total success for this new expansion into New Jersey and beyond.

Advance-deposit wagering is the most popular way to bet on horse races in the States. Photo:Sheep R Us

Working in Tandem with SBTech

The iGaming software specialists are, at present, the world’s leading supplier of “omnichannel sports betting and gaming” solutions, operating from 11 offices across the globe. With esteemed entertainment brands like Sky Bet and Golden Nugget among their client base, SBTech is well-placed to take CDIs’ real money gaming plans to the next level.

Their first task will be to design, build and supply CDI with a brand-new U.S.-facing iGaming platform, from which the company can manage all aspects of its new sports wagering and real money gaming activities. It’s also proposed that by using the platform, CDI will be able to expand its portfolio and offer additional iGaming products to consumers that are separate from its existing TwinSpires advance-deposit wagering brand.

The partnership between the two companies will also see SBTech give the existing platform a total overhaul. The exact details are yet confirmed, but it’s likely that the platform will become integrated into the new CDI offering. With plenty of point-of-sale and on-site wagering products within its portfolio of solutions, SBTech will also be able to add additional sports betting facilities to CDI’s brick-and-mortar properties now that states will have the power to authorize and regulate gambling activities following the Supreme Court’s lifting of the nationwide ban.

After announcing the deal, SBTech CEO Richard Carter explained how the company is “thrilled” to introduce its iGaming technology solutions into the U.S., especially in partnership with a leading brand like CDI since the two companies “share a deep commitment to technological innovation and excellence,” which will be necessary during such an “exciting time in the U.S. gaming market.”

Meanwhile, the CEO of CDI, William “Bill” Carstanjen made it clear that this new Supreme Court ruling has provided a “unique opportunity” for the brand to leverage its “knowledge and experience operating the largest legal” online horse racing-focused sports betting business in the U.S.

Changes Across the Board

The year 2019 has already shaped up to be the year of change in the U.S. iGaming market. In addition to these developments within the sports betting vertical, online poker has undergone a new resurgence thanks to the global poker brand, PokerStars. Back in 2016, the brand received the right to operate in New Jersey, and later this year, in another historic move, it will offer real money gaming in the Pennsylvania market. Although the decision occurred at a meeting of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) last November, the brand will reportedly launch officially on July 15th. Currently, PokerStars is the only online operator within the state after a rival casino brand decided not to compete and enter the market.

During that same meeting, the PGCB also granted approval to the Mohegan Sun Pocono reservation casino and racecourse to conduct interactive gaming within its premises. However, the board only gave approval to the casino to launch online slots and table games after rejecting its proposal to provide online poker games within the premises.

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