‘We Do Not Plan To Brand’ Our Retail Sportsbooks, Churchill Downs Says

The retail sportsbooks at Churchill Downs and its affiliated historical horse racing facilities across Kentucky will not be branded. This means FanDuel will not have a retail sportsbook in Kentucky via its Churchill Downs partnership.

That’s according to Tonya Abeln, the vice president of communications at Churchill Downs Inc., who shared the information with Gaming Today following CDI’s Q2 2023 earnings call on Thursday.

“We do not plan to brand the retail race and sports books at our properties,” Abeln wrote in an email.

Why Churchill Downs Is Choosing This Approach

This approach is different from that of Keeneland and Red Mile, which are partnered with Caesars Sportsbook. There will be a Caesars-branded sportsbook at Red Mile, and Caesars will also launch as a mobile app thanks to the partnership.

The majority of retail sportsbooks in the US carry the brand of a commercial operator, such as FanDuel, BetMGM, or Bet365.

In all likelihood, CDI is choosing to take this approach with its retail sportsbooks because … well, because it can. CDI owns eight of the 14 venues eligible for sportsbooks in Kentucky. For lack of a better term, it essentially runs the Kentucky gambling industry.

Its facilities already generate a significant amount of foot traffic. CDI executives must have determined that adding a commercial brand to those facilities’ sportsbooks wouldn’t add enough value in exchange for the percentage of betting revenue the company would have to share with whichever brand it used. (If a retail venue chooses to have a branded sportsbook, it must share the revenue from that location with the commercial brand.)

CDI Retail Sportsbook Locations

CDI will operate sports betting locations at:

  • Churchill Downs
  • Derby City Gaming
  • Derby City Gaming Downtown (opens late 2023)
  • Turfway Park Racing & Gaming
  • Oak Grove Racing & Gaming
  • Newport Racing & Gaming
  • Ellis Park Racing & Gaming

It will also offer sports betting at its future Ellis Park extension site. The timing for that venue is unknown, although CDI CEO Bill Carstanjen did say the company has selected a location east of Owensboro for the site during the Q2 earnings call.

About the Author
Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain

Matthew Bain is a contributor to Gaming Today. Before joining Catena Media in 2022, Bain spent six years with the USA TODAY Network as a reporter and deputy sports editor at the Des Moines Register. A California native, Bain helped spearhead Prop 26 vs. Prop 27 coverage. He has led Catena Media’s coverage of the Massachusetts sports betting launch and the legalization of Kentucky sportsbooks.

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