After months of strategic maneuvering, Churchill Downs Inc. finally made its move in PA sports betting. The company has set its intentions on online gaming and sports betting since March this year, when it finished a transaction to buy Presque Isle Downs & Casino.
Churchill Downs started strong but was held up by a general delay in PA sports betting. The wait is finally over now that Presque Isle Downs submitted an application for a $10 million license with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
A Presque Isle Downs Sportsbook Was Anticipated
Churchill Downs has been serious about joining the sports betting market as soon as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was repealed by the Supreme Court in May. It even signed a deal with SBTech and Golden Nugget Atlantic City that same week, revealing sports betting has been on its mind long before. And with Golden Nugget Online Casino leading the NJ online casino market, Churchill Downs seemed to have made the right choice.
At the time, entering the NJ sports betting market alongside Golden Nugget was higher on the priority list, especially with football season approaching and the PA sports betting legislation still incomplete. Now that Churchill Downs Online Casino & Sportsbook is expected to launch this year and the Presque Isle property has already been secured, it’s time to move the focus onto Pennsylvania.
PA Sportsbook Number Seven
The majority of PA casinos have decided to move onto PA sports betting and have applied for licenses in front of the PGCB. Several gaming entities have already been granted an approval from the PGCB, including Harrah’s Philadelphia, Parx Casino, SugarHouse and Rivers, with SugarHouse Sportsbook and Rivers Sportsbook recently launching.
Presque Isle might have managed to squeeze in a license application before the end of the year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be showing its presentation to the board any time soon. If we look at Valley Forge’s scenario, a meeting will most likely be set early in 2019.
The two casinos may be the last on the PGCB’s list, but the launch delay of the remaining PA sportsbooks means they won’t be too far behind on the market itself. For example, Rivers and SugarHouse’s original launch date was said to be December 1, but it took multiple weeks before the official launch actually occurred.
Surely, launching a PA sportsbook is a much harder task than launching an NJ sportsbook. The state still doesn’t allow mobile betting, so only retail sportsbooks will be legal within its borders for now. But Churchill Downs has already secured the Presque Isle property and will most likely take advantage of the situation by focusing its efforts on becoming the seventh official PA sportsbook.