Churchill Downs CEO Confirms Multiple Sports Betting Partnerships

Written By Steve Schult on July 27, 2023
Churchill Downs CEO online sports betting

Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bil Carstanjen confirmed the company has multiple online sports betting partnerships on Thursday.

During the company’s second-quarter earnings call, Carstanjen touched on their Kentucky sports betting licenses.

And he made a brief, but significant, comment regarding how many deals the company has made.

“We also monetized a couple of the online sports betting licenses we have in Kentucky with B2B partners, including FanDuel,” Carstanjen said.

FanDuel was already known, but language implies more

The CDI-FanDuel partnership was confirmed at the end of June. However, Carstanjen said they “monetized a couple of” licenses during the earnings call. Thus, he’s indicating more than one partnership is in place.

Part of the speculation surrounding the FanDuel partnership was which one of CDI’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks would be FanDuel-branded.

However, CDI confirmed Thursday they would not be branding their retail sportsbooks. In other words, their online betting partners will be just that — online-only betting partners.

CDI will be the entity that allows a FanDuel Kentucky platform into the market. But that will be FanDuel’s only sports betting presence in the Bluegrass State, unless it makes a retail deal with another company.

What other operators are likely to secure a deal with CDI?

With only slightly more than a month before retail sports betting begins, we only know the details of two operator partnerships.

Caesars Sportsbook Kentucky will be associated with Keeneland and Red Mile, the Lexington-based venues. The Keeneland-Red Mile partnership also puts a Caesars-branded retail sportsbook at Red Mile.

And we know about FanDuel’s association with CDI.

During BetMGM’s earnings calls Wednesday, executives revealed they would launch a BetMGM Kentucky online sportsbook. But BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt didn’t reveal who they partnered with.

Everything else is still up for grabs. But which companies make sense as a partner for CDI?

DraftKings has an existing partnership with CDI for its DK Horse platform. And Bet365 has an online gaming partnership with CDI in Pennsylvania.

Thus, it wouldn’t be shocking if the Kentucky giant backed DraftKings Kentucky or Bet365 Kentucky.

Some of the smaller operators could be a fit for CDI too, especially since there are no branding requirements in the deal.

For example, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy does Kentucky Derby content every year from the company’s flagship horse track. Adding a Barstool Sportsbook partnership wouldn’t be out of the question, especially since the brand could be popular among the 18-, 19- and 20-year-old crowd eligible to bet in Kentucky.

No retail sportsbook? No BetMGM

Once Kentucky’s sports betting landscape was established, many presumed that CDI would partner with some of the country’s larger online sports betting companies.

Mostly because they are a huge company themselves, thus attracting the larger brands. And if they have deals with DraftKings, FanDuel and bet365, the predictions would come true. Especially given the headway bet365 is making in Ohio, ranking third among operators for total handle in May.

But don’t be surprised if BetMGM goes elsewhere. The Las Vegas-based gaming giant has retail locations all over the country.

Here are the jurisdictions with BetMGM-branded brick-and-mortar sportsbooks:

  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Nevada
  • Arizona
  • South Dakota
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • Mississippi
  • Maryland
  • Washington, DC
  • Delaware
  • Massachusetts

And don’t be surprised to see one in New York soon. MGM Resorts owns Empire City, a racino in Yonkers. The property should receive one of the downstate casino licenses awarded later this year or early 2024.

Photo by AP / Darron Cummings
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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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