Churchill Downs and Golden Nugget Atlantic City to Debut Online Sports Betting by Early 2019

Posted on: May 17, 2018, 06:25h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2018, 07:11h.

Kentucky-based Churchill Downs Incorporated and Golden Nugget Atlantic City are uniting to offer an online sports betting platform in New Jersey, which the two companies hope to have up and running by the first quarter of 2019.

Churchill Downs Golden Nugget
Churchill Downs is racing towards New Jersey sports betting by way of the Golden Nugget Atlantic City. (Image: Churchill Downs/Golden Nugget/

Churchill Downs is best-known for owning its namesake horse racetrack where the Kentucky Derby was contested earlier this month. But the company is also a regional casino operator with properties in Maine, Florida, Mississippi, and Ohio.

Its new partnership with Golden Nugget Atlantic City extends the company’s portfolio to New Jersey. In a release earlier this week, Churchill Downs revealed an operating agreement with SBTech, an interactive gaming provider with offices in London, Malta, and Isle of Man, to utilize its turnkey online casino and sports betting platforms.

The Golden Nugget and Churchill Downs announcement comes just two days after the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled against the longstanding federal sports betting ban that affected New Jersey, along with 45 other American states.

Golden Goose

Golden Nugget Atlantic City has emerged as the online gaming leader in New Jersey.

While gross gaming revenues (GGR) for iGaming had previously been rather evenly dispersed, Golden Nugget is now the dominant operator. The casino has won $31.9 million in 2018 through April, with its next closest competitor, the Borgata, at $17.1 million.

Golden Nugget’s online casino has generated about 34 percent of the state’s online gaming haul this year. Owned by billionaire Tilman Fertitta, Golden Nugget is hoping Churchill Downs — a company well-known to much of the country due to the Kentucky Derby — will attract new patrons who might be only now considering online gaming and sports betting.

Churchill Downs additionally operates TwinSpires, an online parimutuel betting site that takes wagers from US residents in numerous states.

New Jersey, which successfully appealed the Supreme Court to review and ultimately repeal the federal sports betting ban, is rushing to finalize its regulations on the gaming expansion.

“We want to act quickly to capitalize on the Court’s decision so that we can get sports gaming in place and operating in New Jersey,” State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) stated this week after Monday’s SCOTUS decision.

Churchill Downs Up

After SCOTUS handed down its sports betting opinion, Morgan Stanley issued a note saying regional casino operators Penn National and Boyd Gaming are two stocks that stand to most benefit from sports betting expanding to states not named Nevada.

Churchill Downs, publicly traded on NASDAQ, might be another beneficiary.

Of the 20 states expected to pass sports betting laws in the near future, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Mississippi have already signed such regulatory statutes to soon join Nevada in offering full-fledged sportsbooks.

Churchill Downs has two gaming facilities in Mississippi. It will add a third Magnolia State casino with the Lady Luck Vicksburg, as well as one in Pennsylvania (Presque Island Downs) when its $229.5 million acquisition of the properties from Eldorado Resorts is completed in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Churchill Downs shares have skyrocketed since the SCOTUS decision and Golden Nugget announcement. The stock closed at $306.40 on Wednesday, more than 9.5 percent higher than where they opened on Monday.