PA Partnership Foreshadows Possible Bet365-Churchill Downs KY Sportsbook Deal

Written By Steve Schult on July 6, 2023
bet365 churchill downs partnership

Last week, FanDuel and Churchill Downs Inc. confirmed they partnered for sports betting access in Kentucky.

But a deal made by CDI earlier this year for Pennsylvania access could indicate what’s next for Kentucky sports betting.

In January, the Louisville-based horse racing giant announced a partnership with Bet365 in Pennsylvania. CDI owns the Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie, Pa., allowing Bet365 access to Pennsylvania online sports betting and iGaming.

It’s a similar structure to how online sportsbook operators gain access to Kentucky. Thus, it opens the possibility that CDI will announce Bet365 Kentucky as another sports betting partner in the coming weeks.

Churchill Downs’ existing Bet365 relationship makes sense for Kentucky

There are only two publicly known sports betting partnerships in Kentucky so far. Keeneland and Red Mile secured a Caesars Sportsbook Kentucky deal, while CDI ensured FanDuel Kentucky would be operational.

But we know more deals are in the works. Kentucky Downs told PlayKentucky it was doing its “due diligence” for a sports betting partner. And Sandy’s Racing & Gaming is in “final negotiations” with its eventual partner.

There are 10 venues eligible to open a brick-and-mortar sportsbook in the Bluegrass State. CDI owns four of them. Each venue can partner with up to three companies for online betting.

Additionally, many online operators are positioning themselves to make a run at the Kentucky market. As a result, CDI will likely have multiple Kentucky partnerships. In fact, it has already indicated that it does have multiple partnerships.

CDI already had horse racing deals with FanDuel and DraftKings, along with the Pennsylvania casino deal with Bet365. Geographically, it makes perfect sense for those three companies to become Churchill’s partners.

Churchill Downs properties are spread across the state

Of the four CDI Kentucky venues, two are in Louisville, one borders Ohio and a third is near Tennessee.

Its flagship track, Churchill Downs, and its HHR facility, Derby City Gaming, are both in Louisville. CDI announced Derby City Gaming would house a retail sportsbook in Louisville. By omission, it appears that Churchill Downs racetrack, home of the Kentucky Derby, won’t have a sportsbook.

That leaves Derby City, Oak Grove Racing & GamingTurfway Park and Ellis Park as other spots for CDI-owned retail sportsbooks.

The details about the FanDuel partnership were virtually nonexistent. Therefore, negotiations are probably still ongoing.

Partnership would be in line with Bet365 ascension in US ranks

Churchill Downs is the largest gaming operator in Kentucky. Which makes it the most appealing partner for online sportsbooks looking for access.

It’s why the larger US operators made sense for CDI to partner with. However, Bet365 looks primed to become one of the bigger players in the industry.

For example, analysts at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, an independent gambling research and consulting firm, ranked Bet365 the fourth-best sports betting app in the US based on data from a proprietary survey.

Furthermore, according to numbers from Sensor Power Data, the European gambling stalwart recently got more US downloads than both Caesars Sportsbook and Barstool Sportsbook in recent months.

These developments come shortly after the company announced plans to build a $40 million US headquarters.

The company wants to make its mark in the US. Working with CDI would help its cause.

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Steve Schult

The Managing Editor of PlayKentucky, Steve Schult is a veteran of the gambling industry with more than a decade of experience covering the space. After earning his journalism degree from Marist College, the New York native began covering high-stakes poker tournaments and the U.S. gambling industry for various outlets. Following stints as a writer for Card Player Media, Bluff Magazine and the World Series of Poker, Schult joined Catena Media and has managed coverage for a handful of states.

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