Churchill Downs Inc. to Acquire Pennsylvania Casino

Churchill Downs

Churchill DownsKentucky gaming operator Churchill Downs Inc. has acquired a casino in Pennsylvania with the possibility now open for online gaming plus sports betting.

This week, it was announced that Churchill Downs Inc., an operator based in Kentucky, would be acquiring a casino in Pennsylvania and Mississippi. The company has big plans, moving their operations into two new states and the potential to go online as well.

Churchill Downs New Properties

Churchill Downs is now working on purchasing Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pennsylvania. The company is also working on acquiring the Lady Luck Casino, a venue located in Vicksburg, MS. Both acquisitions are a big deal, but all eyes are on the PA deal. With the purchase of Presque Isle, Churchill Downs will be able to offer not only land-based casino gaming but also look to offer online gaming as well.

Pennsylvania passed online gambling legislation in October 2017 when a new gaming package was signed into law. The package included the option for casino and poker game play online. The licensing process has just begun and once the acquisition of the Presque Isle Downs is completed, Churchill Downs will have the ability to apply for licensing. The deal has to be approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board before it will be finalized.

It is believed that the deal will be finalized by the fourth quarter of the year. So, essentially any online gaming offerings would not be ready until the end of 2018 or not until 2019. Online casino gaming is on the radar of Churchill Downs as was indicated from the company website. The company already offers online sports betting inhouse via the TwinSpires website and have stated that their online wagering technology puts them in a position to take advantage of additional iGaming opportunities.

It would not be surprising to see the brand begin to work towards online gaming licensing in Pennsylvania as soon as the acquisition process is complete.

Sports Betting in the Mix

In 2017, the state of Pennsylvania also legalized sports betting. As a race track operator, it would not be surprising to see Churchill Downs get involved in sports betting as well. However, wagering cannot begin until the Supreme Court rules in the Christie vs. NCAA case. All eyes are on the United States Supreme Court right now and their ruling of this case, with a decision set to be made later on this year.

SCOTUS will be deciding if the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 is constitutional or not. If found to be unconstitutional, any state that already has sports betting legislation in place, will be ready to offer such wagering options, Pennsylvania included.

Pending the court ruling, sports betting would be good to go by 2019. It will certainly mark the beginning of a new gaming environment across the United States if sports betting is legalized across the nation.

For now, it seems that Churchill Downs, Inc. is at the beginning of a new stage within the company, set to extend their presence further within the US. Both acquisitions will not be complete until the regulatory bodies of each state choose to approve the deals. It does not seem that approval will not be given, so there should not be anything standing in the way of Churchill Downs beginning to operate the gaming venues, one in PA and the other in MS.