CDI Plans To Launch Kentucky Wagering On First Available Date

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Churchill Downs Inc. has plans to be among the first to go live with sports betting in Kentucky, company executives said Wednesday during an investor phone call around second-quarter earnings.

FanDuel previously announced a deal with Churchill Downs for market access, and during the call, CDI CEO Bill Carstanjen said that the company has “monetized a couple of the online sports betting licenses we have in Kentucky with B2B partners, including FanDuel.” He did not specify, however, that go-live would be with FanDuel.

Caesars Sportsbook, which is partnered with Keeneland Race Course and Red Mile Racing & Gaming, is the only other operator thus far to announce a partnership in the Bluegrass State. According to a May Keeneland press release, Caesars will operate a retail sportsbook at Red Mile.

DraftKings has an existing horse-racing deal with CDI, and it’s possible that deal will or already has been expanded to include digital sports wagering market access. It appears that CDI’s retail sportsbooks won’t be branded, as Carstanjen only referred to “online sports betting partners.” He did say that a new sports bar will open at the racetrack in time for the Sept. 7 retail wagering launch.

The new law allows for sports betting at the racetracks as well as historical horse racing (HHR) venues, many of which are owned by CDI.

BetMGM will be in the game, too

During the BetMGM quarterly earnings call this week, CEO Adam Greenblatt stated that his company would have a platform in Kentucky, but he did not say which track it would partner with.

At a legislative meeting July 19, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Director Jamie Eads said her agency has had conversations with “our service providers,” including BetMGM, Circa Sports, DraftKings, and FanDuel, as well as the Sports Betting Alliance, which represents BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics Sportsbook.

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Gov. Andy Beshear on March 31 signed wagering into law in Kentucky, and the KHRC on July 10 said it has plans to launch brick-and-mortar wagering Sept. 7 and digital betting Sept. 28. Sept. 7 is the first day of the NFL season, with the Detroit Lions visiting the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on a Thursday night.

Churchill Downs is among the nine racetracks in Kentucky that will be eligible to get a wagering license. Each track will be able to partner with up to three digital platforms, meaning there could be as many as 27 online operators in the state.

Each track will also be entitled to one physical sportsbook, with additional retail sportsbooks located at HHR parlors. Wagering at the HHR parlors, Carstanjen said, will provide “another incentive for new and existing customers to come to our properties.”

Beshear signs off on PG fund

As operators prepare to file license applications and review the emergency rules that were released and approved this month, Beshear signed off Thursday on the creation of a problem gambling assistance account. Lawmakers mandated that 2.5% of wagering tax revenue be earmarked for responsible and problem gambling initiatives.

Multiple operators, including FanDuel, have begun offering sign-up promotions in Kentucky.


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