As far as the global horseracing industry goes, it does regularly have small periods when it struggles to compete with other perhaps more attractive sports. The fact that the owners of the tracks have so much land and space on their hands, it’s always inevitable that they’ll attempt to diversify in order to strengthen their business.
The jewel in the crown of the US thoroughbred racing industry, Churchill Downs, is no exception. Earlier this year they revealed their increasing reliance on online gaming so it’s no surprise to hear the CEO praising its presence and not ruling out the possibility that they could sell one of their tracks.
Bob Evans told the Courier Journal that his goal was “to build a sustainable business” and added, “Whether we’ve got four racetracks that’ll be part of that or three or two, I don’t know.”
His company has, in the recent past, added the aforementioned online wagering business as well as slot machines and even the acquisition of a casino. This has led many to believe that the Kentucky Derby and Oaks ownership group may be about to abandon the sports of kings.
“Had we just sat there and been a racing company for the last five years it would have been bad for Churchill and bad for racing. But does that mean we’re just going … willy-nilly to take any profit we make anywhere and just keep funneling it back into day-to-day racing? No. That’d be dumb,” Evans said.
It’s to be expected that the racing part of the business will continue to scale back slightly and as race days are even being lost in the heartland of the racing industry, the UK and Ireland, it means it’s inevitably also likely to be the case for Churchill Downs too.
“I don’t see how, long-term, we continue to operate 50 or 60 racing dates a year without slots. We can do it for a while, use the Oaks and Derby to subsidize a bunch of it. But … it’s not going to go on forever,” Evans added.
With more than 60% of the companies earnings now coming from online or gaming you can clearly see the way that they’re going but there’s no way you can see them deviating away from racing just yet.