BUSINESS

Churchill Downs has online to thank

TAGs: Churchill Downs

churchill-downs-thanks-onlineThe racetrack where the race billed as “the most exciting two minutes in sport” takes place is showing an increasing reliance on online gambling as a source of income.

Monday’s results suggest that Churchill Downs, the racetrack and gambling company, is shifting its business away from horses and onto online.

For the fourth quarter of the year, they reported a net loss of $1.9million, which was a lot less than the $6.9million loss reported in the same period in 2009.

As far as the whole year was concerned, earnings from racing operations were flat at $35million for the year, but all this doom and gloom is before you consider the growth from the online sector.

Churchill’s online advance-deposit wagering platform, TwinSpires.com and their gaming segment were the main earners. Their online business grew 23% to $17.2million for the year, with gaming rising to $28.5m, an increase of 56%.

Churchill president and CEO Robert L. Evans told Kentucky.com of his praise for the online and gambling growth but said racing still has problems.

“We still face a number of challenges as we work to improve the results of our racing operations, including nationwide declines in handle and intense competition for racehorses with tracks that are able to subsidize their purses with alternative gaming revenues.”

The results come only days after a $3.6million lawsuit was filed against the company by The Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, Balmoral Park and Maywood Park. In that it alleges they breached a contract in relation to transferring customers between Youbet.com and youbetillinois.com to the aforementioned TwinSpires site.

The lawsuit may wind up with Churchill Downs in hot water and wondering whether it was worth all the fuss in the first place.

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