KY Sports Betting Update: Churchill Downs Provides Details, Beshear Signs Problem Gambling Order

KY Sports Betting Update: Churchill Downs Provides Details, Beshear Signs Problem Gambling Order
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

More details about Churchill Downs’ plans for Kentucky sports betting were unveiled Thursday when the Louisville-based gaming company held its quarterly report call with investment analysts.

Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc., reiterated that the company will have retail sportsbooks at all four of its tracks as well as its historical horse racing satellite facilities across the state in time to open on Sept. 7, Kentucky’s scheduled start date for brick-and-mortar establishments.

That date is just six weeks away.

“Retail sports betting in our HRM venues will provide another incentive for new and existing customers to come to our properties,” Carstanjen said. “We also monetized a couple of the online sports betting licenses we have in Kentucky with b2b partners, including one with FanDuel.”

The plans include adding a sports bar at Churchill Downs’ simulcast facility at the Aristides Lounge. A Churchill Downs spokesperson told later Thursday that the company will release more information in the coming weeks to provide details about its wagering locations across the state.

Because it owns four tracks in the state, Churchill Downs will be eligible to partner with up to 12 online operators – three for each track.

Churchill Sees Growth Potential In Racing-Sportsbook Deals

Carstanjen also talked with analysts about another way Churchill plans to work with sports betting operators.

Within the past year, FanDuel has become the first sports betting operator to link its online pari-mutuel racebook and sports betting platforms, allowing bettors to access both from the same digital wallet. FanDuel’s innovation helped Churchill Downs post a record handle for this year’s Kentucky Derby. It was especially helpful in driving up bets to win by 22% from last year’s race, even though the 2022 Derby featured more horses.

Churchill Downs also partnered with Kentucky DraftKings sportsbook, providing the TwinSpires platform for the Boston-based sports technology company’s ADW app.

“Our TwinSpires and United Tote businesses are now receiving B2B fees related to providing and settling wagers on horse races for FanDuel and DraftKings,” Carstanjen explained. “…We expect to add additional B2B partners over the next 12 months. We’re very optimistic that horse racing and our TwinSpires services can be expanded meaningfully to online sports wagering platforms to reach millions of customers and that we will continue to benefit from the growth and incremental fees related to our B2B services over the longer term.”

Problem Gaming Fund Order Signed

Churchill Downs news wasn’t the only Kentucky sports betting announcement made Thursday.

During his weekly press conference in Frankfort, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that he signed an emergency order that establishes the state’s first problem gaming assistance fund. He said the order compliments those he signed earlier this month when the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission approved emergency regulations allowing the state to begin accepting applications from tracks and operators ahead of the Sept. 7 kickoff.

House Bill 551, the state’s sports betting law, calls for 2.5% of the tax collected on operator revenues to be used for problem gaming services.

“This regulation establishes the process for providing funds from this account to support agencies, groups, organizations and persons that are best able to help those that experience problem gambling,” the governor said. “The funds can also be used to promote public awareness and education to reduce and prevent problem gaming and pay for the costs associated with treatment and recovery.”

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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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