Churchill Downs Completes Presque Isle Acquisition in Pennsylvania

The Churchill Downs acquisition of Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania is finally a done deal. Churchill Downs Inc., which owns the track bearing its name that hosts the venerable Kentucky Derby every year, has officially secured its place in the PA betting market.

Churchill Downs Inc. announced in a press release on Friday that it has finalized its purchase of Presque Isle Downs in Erie, PA from Eldorado Resorts. The nearly-$180 million deal was also approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) and the PA State Horse Racing Commission.

Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc., said this in a statement:

“Presque Isle will give us a foothold in Pennsylvania and the opportunity to participate in the sports betting and online gaming market throughout the state. This acquisition is projected to be immediately accretive to our shareholders. We are excited about welcoming Presque Isle and its employees to the Churchill family.”

Churchill Downs All Set to Launch BetAmerica in Pennsylvania

The successful completion of the Presque Isle acquisition places Churchill Downs in strong position to capitalize on the soon-to-be-launched online gaming industry in Pennsylvania through its ownership of existing horse racing site BetAmerica.com.

For a little background information, Pennsylvania approved legislation in 2017 legalizing online and in-person sports betting, online gambling and online poker pending a change in federal law. The Supreme Court delivered that change in 2018 and Pennsylvania proceeded with its plan.

In the interim, the PGCB has been busy drawing up regulations, reviewing gaming licenses and issuing approvals to companies interested in offering any of the newly-approved forms of gaming.

The PGCB has issued numerous licenses to date, including two licenses for Presque Isle Downs to operate online table games and slots. Presque Isle revealed at that time that it was planning to operate its PA betting site under the BetAmerica brand name, which is also owned by Churchill Downs Inc.

Presque Isle even provided a couple of sample screenshots previewing how its betting site may look once it launches online gaming in Pennsylvania:

Presque Isle Downs also applied for an in-person and online sports betting license this past December. The status of that license application is still outstanding, but Presque Isle and Churchill Downs Inc. should have no issues meeting regulators’ demands after already being approved for online casino games.

If everything goes according to plan, we may soon see BetAmerica transition away from its pure horse racing roots and begin reshaping itself as an all-in-one gambling destination offering:

  • Sports betting
  • Horse racing betting
  • Online slots
  • Online table games

It appears so far that Churchill Downs will be expanding its online gambling operations under the BetAmerica name across the United States. Outside of Pennsylvania, Churchill Downs operates a BetAmerica-themed sportsbook at the Riverwalk Casino in Mississippi and has a deal in place to open an online sportsbook and casino in partnership with the Golden Nugget in New Jersey sometime in 2019.