Churchill Will Apply For PA Sports Betting, But First Up Is New Jersey

Written By Kim Yuhl on November 16, 2018 - Last Updated on October 17, 2022
New Jersey boardwalk

It looks like New Jersey will welcome another sportsbook before the popping of champagne on New Year’s Eve. And what is good for New Jersey is good for Pennsylvania.

Churchill Downs Incorporated indicated it would launch New Jersey sports betting by the end of the year. The accelerated timeline moved up its initial launch date sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

And once everything is up and running in NJ, CDI will transition its focus to PA.

The company’s CEO Bill Carstanjen talked about its Pennsylvania sports betting plans in the company’s third-quarter earnings report.

“We are also very interested in sports wagering [in Pennsylvania], and we will file for that license when we have clarity on our transaction closing date,” Carstanjen said. “It is worth noting that a sports wagering license would allow brick and mortar sportsbook at Presque Isle Downs as well as an online offering available throughout the state.”

First things first, New Jersey

Undoubtedly, the company is eager to launch sports betting where it can after seeing the earning potential following its debut in Mississippi and its third-quarter earnings.

In its earnings report, the company reported a 12 percent increase in revenue for the third quarter. That figure includes a decline in its racing business. Its casino business, however, earned enough to offset its losses and then some.

To capitalize on its growing vertical, CDI also has its eyes on New York and Colorado as a result of a partnership with Saratoga Casino Holdings. Its deal with Rush Street Interactive also puts Illinois in sight. Of course, those plans are pending regulatory approval in those states.

But first, New Jersey.

In May, CDI and Golden Nugget entered into an agreement that will allow the company to operate a casino and sportsbook in NJ.

“We do not have a casino in New Jersey to enter the market directly but have an arrangement with Golden Nugget, which will allow us full management and control of our own site,” Carstanjen said.

Carstanjen mentioned the company and necessary employees are currently going through the gaming license process with the Department Gaming Enforcement. He also shared information about its technology partner, SBTech.

“In addition, our gaming technology partner, SBTech, is in the process of getting their platform licensed. We believe we will be operational in the fourth quarter with the suite of online casino and sports betting products.

“As we’ve discussed previously, our TwinSpires team will be responsible for running our online wagering business utilizing the SBTech platform.

“Our TwinSpires team includes strong talent from iGaming markets outside of the US with deep experience in sports wagering and online casino products.”

Pennsylvania and sports setting

PA sports betting is at the starting gate waiting and chomping at the bit.

Five PA casinos applied for and received approval for sports betting:

Additionally, South Philadelphia Turf Club will offer sports betting after Parx Casino launches.

There is now a sixth applicant too. Valley Forge Casino submitted its paperwork on Nov. 14.

Four of those five have hinted at a launch date before the end of the year. Only Harrah’s Philadelphia is targeting the first quarter of 2019.

On the one hand, Pennsylvania looks very enticing. It is a lot less crowded than New Jersey with its nine, soon to be 10 sportsbooks.

On the other hand, the massive $10 million license fee and a 34 percent tax on gross betting revenue may keep the number of operators on the lower end.

It may be entering the New Jersey market late, but Pennsylvania sports betting is just getting started. This bodes well for CDI as it prepares to expand its sports betting reach.

The company’s investment in properties where online casino gambling and sports betting has potential is a solid strategy. After dipping its toe in the Mississippi sports betting waters, the company realizes there is no time like the present.

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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about poker culture and the online gambling industry. A part-time member of the poker media since 2013, Kim recently sold her marketing business to write full-time while traveling around the world. You can learn more about her work and travels at

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