Kentucky-based racetrack operator Churchill Downs Inc. has tapped its chief strategy officer Ted Gay to serve as president of Churchill Downs Interactive, the company’s fledgling online gambling division. Gay will oversee CDI’s existing online operations – including advance deposit wagering site TwinSpires.com and social gaming site Luckity.com – which are proving increasingly important to CDI’s bottom line. (Former TwinSpires.com president Rohit Thukral amicably resigned his post in March.) CDI has also applied for a Nevada online poker service provider license, although they’re still awaiting a hearing with state regulators. Gay led CDI’s acquisition of Atlanta-based Bluff Media in February, further burnishing the company’s online poker bona fides.
In related news, CDI’s plans to build an Ohio racino has been given the green light by state legislators. In March, CDI announced it was partnering with Delaware North Cos. Gaming and Entertainment on a plan to buy the Lebanon Raceway in Warren County, then move the operation to a 120-acre site that was formerly used as a state prison. The state is to receive $5m for the land purchase. The joint venture, which operates under the banner of Miami Valley Gaming & Racing, plans to incorporate a 188k-square-foot casino featuring 2,500 video lottery terminals alongside the racetrack and grandstand. On Tuesday, Warren County commissioners approved special tax breaks that will allow the project to go forward.
Finally, CDI has also agreed to pay $141m to acquire the Riverwalk Casino and Hotel in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In June, CDI CEO Robert Evans claimed his company would be ‘very active’ in seeking acquisitions thanks to what he touted as CDI’s robust balance sheet. As proof of that claim, CDI plans to pay for the Riverwalk acquisition with cash, and the purchase is expected to close before the end of the year. The deal is contingent upon receiving the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s approval, but that would appear to be a formality. CDI already operates Harlow’s Casino in Greenville, Mississippi, as well as gaming facilities in Florida, Louisiana plus racetracks in Illinois and its home state of Kentucky.