Race betting and casino operator Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) has been expanding its land-based operations with the most recent one being its acquisition of two properties in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. Churchill Downs Inc. officially announced on Wednesday 28 that it had struck deals to acquire the Lady Luck Casino Vicksburg in Mississippi and the Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pennsylvania. Both properties are being acquired from the Reno-based Eldorado Resorts. Also, the two properties will cost Churchill Downs Inc. $229.5 million in cash with the Presque Isle deal taking up a bigger chunk of the amount, that is, it will cost $179 million.
Presque Isle has both racing and casino offerings – the casino option offers players a poker room, 32 gaming tables as well as 1,600 slots. Lady Luck Casino, on the other hand, features nine gaming tables, 620 slots, and an 89-room hotel. Between the two, the Presque Isle sale is expected to close earlier within the second quarter of this year with Lady Luck trailing slightly behind with the possibility of the deal closing in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Entry into the Online Gambling Scene
The purchase of a Pennsylvanian casino seems to be CDI’s entry point into the state’s online sports betting and online gaming as a whole.
“Presque Isle will give us a foothold in Pennsylvania which has recently passed legislation authorizing real money online gaming,” explained Churchill Downs Inc. CEO, Bill Carstanjen.
The state of Pennsylvania in October 2017 passed a law that legalized online poker, sports betting and casino games among other forms of gambling. This opportunity was quite appealing to CDI which already operates an online race betting offering via its TwinSpires advance deposit wagering site. The operator has for a long time had a keen interest in venturing out of the racing sector and becoming a key player in other sectors like online casinos.
The company clarified on this on their website through a statement that read:
‘CDI’s investment in online wagering technology and customer support systems also positions the company to take advantage of additional Internet gaming opportunities, such as online poker, as those activities are authorized at the state or federal level.’
Online casinos in Pennsylvania could go live in late 2018 as there are a number of regulations that have not been implemented yet but CDI’s entry into the market implies that they already have a deal lined up or they at least have an idea about what to do as far as online gaming in the state is concerned.