Churchill Downs Looks to Broaden into Online Gambling; Will Add Jobs

The iconic Louisville racetrack that hosts one of the world’s most visible horseracing events, the Kentucky Derby, has its eye on expanding into the online wagering market.

Last week the Courier-Journal reported that Churchill Downs is looking into adding about 50 employees as it begins exploring an entry into the nascent United States online gambling industry.

The company has been granted a $1 million tax incentive by the state of Kentucky toward its expansion.

Company seeking to expand technology team

The jobs the company expects to add would be high-paying jobs, offering a salary of around $81 per hour, the paper reported. The positions would all pertain to software development and related departments.

Kentucky-based Churchill Downs said that the employees could be based out of the company’s offices in Lexington, or could be in California or Atlanta.

In Mountain View, California, Churchill Downs operates an online horse-betting venture. The company is also the owner of Bluff Media, which runs the prominent poker magazine Bluff.

Additional jobs part of company’s long-term online gaming strategy

Speaking to the expansion, designed primarily to solidify a foothold in the real-money betting industry, Churchill Downs CEO and Chairman Bob Evans remarked that the additional positions would be “simply part of that effort and expands the technology team we already have based in Lexington, Kentucky, and Mountain View, California.”

Real-money online betting has yet to be dealt with on the federal level, though the government has determined that only sports-betting represents a violation of the 1961 Federal Wire Act. This means that other games, such as online poker and other forms of Internet-based casino games could be regulated federally, though efforts to do so in recent years have all failed, largely due to a highly divided Congress.

Powerful Senator hails from Kentucky

Despite the fact that one of the most prominent online gambling proponents in the current Congress, Nevada Senator Harry Reid, has repeatedly said that he believes it is unlikely that there will be action on the issue of Internet wagering for at least a year, Kentucky does stand to play a pivotal role in the issue should it come to the forefront during the next legislative session.

The Senate’s Minority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, hails from the Bluegrass State and as such almost certainly has the ear of Churchill Downs. In states where online betting has been regulated – thus far only Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware – the industry is expected to bring in tens of millions of dollars of revenue, though of course so far the market is largely untested and those figures remain approximations.

Only one real-money online gambling web site is currently up and running in the United States, that being Ultimate Poker, which launched in Nevada back in April. Delaware is expected to launch sites this coming October, with New Jersey set to follow suit by Thanksgiving.

The mayor of the city of Louisville, Greg Fischer, said that he believed the Churchill Downs jobs, if slated for Kentucky, could have the potential to turn the city into a new gaming center.

“They were just hoping to get these incentives that were just approved. So I would expect a favorable outcome,” Fischer was quoted as saying.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on BestOnlineCasinos.com, USPokerSites.com, and LegalUSPokerSites.com

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