Churchill Downs Getting Ready for Kentucky Sports Betting

Churchill Downs Getting Ready for Kentucky Sports Betting
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

It's happening. Kentucky sports betting will be here in less than two months, and the state’s largest gaming entity has big plans to be a part of it.

Churchill Downs Inc. owns four of the state’s nine racetracks as well as historical horse racing satellite venues in Louisville and Newport. There are also plans to open two more HHR facilities in Louisville and Owensboro in the near future. Those facilities and the tracks will be eligible to host brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

Tonya Abeln, vice president for corporate communications, told that Churchill Downs plans to have a sports betting presence at all its facilities, including its namesake track and Derby City Gaming in Louisville.

Besides Churchill, retail sports betting will be available at Ellis Park, Oak Grove, Turfway Park, and Newport Racing and Gaming.

Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks can take wagers starting on Sept. 7, provided they’ve been approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The KHRC approved temporary sports betting regulations Monday in Lexington.

Churchill Downs Plans to Have Three Online Sports Betting Partners

Online sports betting can start in Kentucky on Sept. 28, and Churchill plans to have a presence there, too.

Abeln told that the company plans to have three online partners. One of those, FanDuel, has already been announced. The partnership with the Flutter Entertainment brand extends an established relationship between the two sides. FanDuel is a sports betting partner of the Kentucky Derby. Bettors with FanDuel sports betting accounts in certain states were able to bet on the Run for the Roses through the app for the first time in May. More than $188 million was bet on this year's race, a record for the first leg in the Triple Crown, and FanDuel's presence helped fuel a significant increase in bets to win.

Abeln said that none of the online partners will have retail sportsbooks at Churchill sites.

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TwinSpires Won’t Take Online Sports Bets in Kentucky

While the other partnerships have not been revealed, Abeln did say that Churchill has no plans to use TwinSpires as an online sports betting app in Kentucky. TwinSpires is the company’s advance deposit wagering platform, allowing bettors in Kentucky and several other states to place bets on horse races around the U.S. and the world.

Churchill Downs Inc. rebranded its BetAmerica sportsbook under the TwinSpires name in 2021. However, CDI CEO Bill Carstanjen said in February 2022 the company would pull out of online sports betting because the company did not see a way to become profitable in a market where competitors were spending lavishly to secure market share.

TwinSpires is still available online in Arizona, and Churchill Downs uses the name for its retail sportsbooks in several states, including Louisiana, Maryland and Pennsylvania.



Steve Bittenbender

Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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