Churchill Completes Lady Luck Casino Deal In PA

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Kentucky Derby-owner Churchill Downs Inc. has completed its deal to acquire the operations of a casino in Pennsylvania, marking its second property in the state.

The racetrack operator has officially assumed control of Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin in Farmington, Pennsylvania. The deal was announced in August. Churchill takes over management of the Southwestern PA casino, along with certain assets related to the management, from Nevada-based Eldorado Resorts, Inc. for a $100k price tag. Eldorado continues to own the property.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the transaction at its hearing last week.

Lady Luck, which opened in 2013, has 600 slot machines and 27 table games. It doesn’t have a sportsbook, and it hasn’t applied for a license yet. The casino is at the bottom of the Pennsylvania market in terms of gaming revenue. Lady Luck had $28.2 mm in slot winnings last year, down 6.2% compared to 2017. It also had just $4 mm in table game revenue in 2018, down 11.3% from the previous year. Both figures were worst among the state’s 12 brick-and-mortar casinos, but Lady Luck’s gambling supply more closely resembles a satellite casino than a Las Vegas-style facility.

Churchill’s sports betting plans

In addition to Lady Luck, Churchill owns and operates Presque Isle Downs & Casino, located in Erie, Pennsylvania. Churchill acquired the Erie property last year.

Early last month, Pennsylvania gaming regulators granted PID’s petition for a $10 mm sports wagering license. PID is planning a 1,275-square-foot sportsbook adjacent to its seven-table poker room. It will have 50 self-service betting kiosks, as well as several betting windows.

Churchill told the PGCB at the hearing that it controls half of the sports betting market in Mississippi through its two Magnolia State casinos with sports betting. Its market share in Pennsylvania will be far less, but it could be a major player in the Keystone State. Online sports betting is expected to begin in Pennsylvania this summer.

Churchill’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks at PID and Lady Luck (if it decides to apply for a $10 mm permit for that casino) are not going to be cash cows. Everything depends on mobile. Churchill has extensive experience in that realm through its TwinSpires.com online horse-betting platform, the largest of its kind in the country. Churchill has partnered with SBTech for its sports betting plans.

The company is also offering online sports wagering/casino in New Jersey under a partnership with the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City.

“We are also a leader in brick-and-mortar casino gaming with approximately 11,000 slot machines and VLTs and approximately 200 table games in eight states after our acquisition of a majority interest in Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois and the Lady Luck Nemacolin transaction,” Churchill said in a presser. “In August 2018, we launched our BetAmerica Sportsbook at our two Mississippi casino properties and have announced plans to enter additional U.S. sports betting and iGaming markets.”

The aforementioned deal for the Illinois casino was completed last week. It bolsters Churchill’s plans for sports betting in Illinois. The governor of the state has indicated he wants sports betting to be legalized.

Churchill also has properties in Ohio and Maryland, two other states with sizable market potentials considering sports betting legalization.

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Brian Pempus

Brian served as a senior reporter and online content manager for Card Player Magazine for nearly a decade before joining USBets in October 2018. He is currently focused on legal and regulated sports betting and online gaming. He's an avid jiu-jitsu practitioner in his free time.

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