Churchill Downs Will have an Online Sportsbook in Pennsylvania

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Churchill Downs Buys Two Pennsylvania Casinos as They Prepare to Open Online Sportsbook

The landscape of sports betting changed abruptly with a US Supreme Court ruling last May. When the ban against states opening casinos and sportsbooks to take bets was lifted, a new opportunity for revenue was created.

Delaware was the first state to open their doors to legal sports bettors, and New Jersey has a fully operational system working already. There are a handful of other states close behind, some already accepting licensing requests and the lucrative financial commitments that are necessary to operate as a sportsbook.

Pennsylvania, a place where the public sentiment over legalized gambling has evolved over the last quarter century, is primed to take advantage of these potential windfall revenue profits. There are currently three major casino entities vying for partnership status with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

While certainly anticipating the passing of legislation in their home state of Kentucky, Churchill Downs Incorporated is pushing forward in the states that are already on board with legal sports betting. Here is some history of gambling in Pennsylvania and why Churchill Downs may prove to be a giant player in the Quaker State.

Pennsylvania's Sportsbook and Casino History

In 1971, Pennsylvania passed legislation that created a statewide lottery system. They were one of the first states to allow such a game of chance. Over the next two decades the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's duties grew.

With the opening of the Pocono Mountain Resort in the early 1990s, residents had their first physical casino. There was a strong interest in growing the gambling industry for revenue purposes.

However, hardliners against gambling created an uphill battle for the state legislators who saw it as a windfall for the state financially. Knowing that the majority of Pennsylvania residents had strong reservations against gambling, the decision was sent to the voters to decide.

As a result, the first efforts to expand legal gambling venues across Pennsylvania stalled. By the 1990s, however, increasing government financial problems helped change minds. Today, Pennsylvania is the second state after Nevada in the amount of revenue that comes from the state's roughly one dozen casinos.

Pennsylvania's Online Sports Betting Landscape

Governor Tom Wolf inked Pennsylvania law HB 271 into law in October. While there was stiff opposition to the idea of legalizing betting on sports in the state a few decades ago, the strength of that resistance is weak at best. There have been a few roadblocks in front of major casino and gaming businesses from pushing for a spot at the player's table in Pennsylvania. During the last year, the number of physical casinos has increased.

All this progress has happened in spite of what many feel are extremely high licensing fees and gaming taxes. A tax rate of 36% and $10 million license fee have some believing it leaves too much of an opening for black market gambling. The fear is, however, clearly contradicted by the number of requests for licenses from giants in the industry. So, while there has been a lot of grumbling over how high the fees and taxes have been set, this may have led to a softening of the anti-gambling resistance.

Giant casino operations such as Churchill Downs Incorporated have written the $10 million check just to get a seat at the proverbial table of sportsbook gambling in PA. Pennsylvania state legislators and accounting experts are surely reading the writing on the wall.

Here are the other Casinos that have applied and will be in the online sportsbook landscape whether it be through acquisition or partnership:

Parx Casino, Hollywood Casino at Penn National.

Churchill Downs Lays a Foundation for an Online Sportsbook

Almost immediately after the US Supreme Court ruling, Churchill Downs Incorporated linked with SBTech to build an iGaming platform. The objective behind this joint venture was obviously to open the door for Churchill Downs to initiate website and mobile app platforms for sports betting.

To further indicate their clear objective to become a leading player as sports' betting grows, Churchill Downs linked with the Golden Nugget to offer online betting in New Jersey. Now, since the online aspects of the Pennsylvania law are forthcoming, the purchase of two physical casino locations in the state has one primary goal.

With the Presque Isle and Lady Luck Nemacolin transactions, Churchill downs can legally open two brick and mortar sportsbooks. This will place them out ahead of much of the competition in anticipation of a fully mobile, online avenue for sports bettors.

Even corporate executives for Churchill Downs Incorporated admit the purchase of these two locations and aspirations others has one underlying objective. Build a foundation ahead of the ultimately lucrative option of Pennsylvania online sports betting.

Churchill Downs Online Sports Betting Promotions

Being a veteran of the casino and betting industry, Churchill Downs Incorporated's marketing experts will certainly create a few innovative ideas to lure customers. Many of the common matching deposit bonuses and player incentive promotions will undoubtedly be part of the Churchill Downs game plan.

In New Jersey, sportsbook operators like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook have developed various types of player insurance policies. Look for similar bonus offers when Churchill Downs begins to accept bets on sports games via their online sportsbook.

With such a solid financial foundation, it would seem logical that the Churchill Downs online sportsbook will extend healthy rewards for player incentives. The more you bet the more rewards you'll earn.

Pennsylvanians are primed to be able to finally bet on sports games in their state. Initially they may be restricted to physical locations, which is why Churchill Downs is pushing their first offensive towards that aim.

Since the amount of revenue generated from the entire online gaming industry is enormous, look for online sports betting to be a reality sooner rather than later. When that happens, Churchill Downs will be ready to step to the plate with their own Churchill Downs Online Sportsbook.

  
Sam Shefrin is the founder of Lineups.com, Inc. Before Lineups, he started Daily Fantasy Cafe, Inc. in 2014. Armed with a passion for sports and every Atlanta team, his journey continues with the goal of making Lineups a premier sports analytics destination. He has been quoted on Forbes.com for industry insight and his websites featured on NBATV, Yahoo! Sports, Fantasy Pros, Bleacher Report and SB Nation.

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