Online Kentucky Derby betting will likely add to the bottom line of Churchill Downs–at least if recent revenue trends for the parent company of the iconic race track continue. Churchill Downs Inc. is the parent company of the racetrack and also owns the Twin Spires online betting site. According to the latest revenue numbers the online wagering component is an increasingly large portion of the company’s bottom line.
The news wasn’t as good for live betting at the race track simulcast windows. Churchill Downs total betting handle was down 16% in the first three months of 2014 compared to the first three months of 2013. Some analysts point to the horrible weather in the Eastern US this winter but others suggest that its part of a larger demographic shift in wagering habits with more bettors preferring to ‘get down’ online.
And it’s the gain in the online betting component that pushed overall revenues for Churchill Downs, Inc. higher. The company experienced a 9% increase in total handle through the company’s Twin Spires online business, plus a 6% increase in net parimutuel revenues. Another important thing to note–there was no live racing at Churchill Downs in the first quarter of this year as the Spring meet started last Saturday and continues this weekend with the Kentucky Derby.
National Thoroughbred Racing Association spokesman Jim Mulvihill said that this is the future of racing and betting:
“In a lot of ways, it is the future of racing. This is not a threat to racing. The smartest racetrack operators are embracing online gaming and they want to be a part of it because, whether you’re talking about horseracing or football or really any business, you’ve got to be online now if you want to be in the 21st Century.”
Mulvihill says that successful gaming companies are getting involved online:
“The more access we give people to the game, and the ability to bet where they want to watch the races, where it’s most comfortable to watch the races—whether that’s at home on their couch or on their mobile device—that’s only a good thing.”
The 2013 Kentucky Derby drew $130.5 million in wagering action, second highest in history.