Casino and racetrack operator Churchill Downs is busy working to grab as much of the U.S. gambling market as it can. Following the Supreme Court’s decision on PASPA in 2018, the company has been seeking out new acquisitions and those efforts have picked up steam this year. Churchill Downs stated in February that it was poised to acquire a casino property in Illinois, which has now been successfully completed. It has also completed the acquisition of another property in Pennsylvania.
Last week, the company announced that it had consummated the purchase of the Rivers Casino Des Plaines in Illinois. That move came ahead of the anticipated launch of sports gambling in the state and marked a deeper expansion inside Illinois borders. Churchill Downs already owns and operates the Arlington International Racecourse located in Chicago.
That deal was completed after the Illinois Gaming Board unanimously approved the acquisition, 4-0. Churchill Downs, which initially said they wanted to purchase at least 50.1% of the racetrack’s parent company, Midwest Gaming Holdings, and ultimately paid about $407 million to purchase 62%.
Sports gambling in Illinois isn’t always looked upon favorably by lawmakers. Past attempts to introduce legislation for the activity have meet with brick walls, but that could be changing this year. The state’s new governor, J. B. Pritzker, is a fan of sports gambling as a means to attract more revenue to the state’s wallet and has already added sports gambling to the budget plan for Illinois for the next fiscal year.
In a separate announcement from last Friday, the Kentucky-based gambling operator announced that it had been given approval by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) to acquire the Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin in Farmington from Eldorado Resorts. That deal was reportedly worth $100,000 and Churchill Downs now adds 27 table games and 600 slot machines to its portfolio through the purchase.
Lady Luck was included in a deal that began materializing last year and which was based on the successful acquisition of Presque Isle Downs & Casino. That venue changed hands from Eldorado to Churchill Downs this past January for $178.9 million in cash and the property has already been given permission to launch a sportsbook; however, the facility has not yet been erected. Presque Isle was also given a license to operate an online casino last October.