Churchill Downs To Purchase Pennsylvania Casino In Preparation For Legal Sports Betting

Churchill Downs To Purchase Pennsylvania Casino In Preparation For Legal Sports BettingChurchill Downs isn’t just for the ponies, as the racetrack-owning company, incorporated as CDI (Churchill Downs Inc.) has been expanding into the casino gaming market for the last several years. However, CDI is acquiring more properties throughout the nation now that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, 1992) has been overturned.

To that end, Churchill Downs has most recently come to terms to purchase Pennsylvania casino Presque Isle Downs in preparation for legal sports betting going live in the state of PA. Announced in March, the sale seems close to finalization, with CDI buying the property for $178.9 million in cash.

If that number seems low, it’s because Presque Isle is one of the smallest casinos in PA (with a monthly slot machine haul of around $9 million), and – as it started as a horse track (and still offers over 100 days of horse racing each year) – its “racino” status makes it a compelling addition to CDI’s portfolio while keeping costs down. (Churchill Downs Inc. is also purchasing a Mississippi-based venue, Lady Luck Casino, which is in Vicksburg. This casino is even less expensive, with the sale coming to a total of about $50.6 million. Both Presque Isle and Lady Luck were properties of Eldorado Resorts.)

Right now, CDI has no plans of expanding the Presque Isle operations beyond setting up a sports betting lounge on the premises and investing in the online gambling and sports betting aspects that were recently approved by the Pennsylvania legislature. This new attraction, which promises to be the most popular type of gambling offered, will supplement and complement Presque Isle’s 1600 slot machines, 40 table games, and poker room.

Because CDI already has an online wagering product for horse racing betting (TwinSpires, which hauled in over $250 million in revenue in 2017 alone), the company has a head-start with the technological expertise and infrastructure required to roll out a comprehensive online sports betting product. That said, it isn’t entirely clear whether they will build such a product in-house or simply license an existing product and fold it into their established TwinSpires user database.

Regardless of their approach, knows, you can expect Churchill Downs Inc. to get sports betting off the ground ASAP, perhaps even in time for Presque Isle to offer NFL betting during the upcoming 2018 season.

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