Churchill Downs Inks Deals Aimed At Launching NJ Online Casino, Sports Betting

Posted By PlayNJ Staff on May 16, 2018 - Last Updated on May 21, 2020

The ranks of legal online casino sites in New Jersey continue to steadily increase. The latest entry? Churchill Downs, who today announced plans to launch in NJ’s market via partnerships with the Golden Nugget and SBTech.

Golden Nugget providing license, SBTech the platform

Churchill’s entrance into the NJ market will be facilitated by two separate partnerships.

The first is with the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. Golden Nugget will be providing Churchill with access to an operating license. In New Jersey, licenses to operate online gambling sites are limited to the state’s land-based casinos, who are then free to sub-lease those licenses to partners.

While not part of the announcement, it’s reasonable to speculate that this may be the start of a broader partnership between Churchill and the Golden Nugget, one that might allow each to access online gambling markets that would otherwise be inaccessible due to a lack of a physical presence in a given state.

The second is with SBTech. Per the announcement from Churchill, SBTech will be providing Churchill “with an iGaming platform, consisting of the consumer website, mobile apps, and back-office systems to manage iGaming and sports wagering.”

The announcement marks the first foray by Churchill into regulated online casino gaming. The company has extensive experience with internet gambling via, Churchill’s home for online horse betting.

SBTech partnership extends beyond NJ

In addition to the NJ market, Churchill and SBTech are set to collaborate in Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

The Mississippi partnership will focus on sports betting. Officials there have indicated that they intend to pursue an aggressive timeline for launching regulated sports betting in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal single-game wagering ban is unconstitutional. Sports wagers could be taken there as soon as this summer. Churchill owns two brick-and-mortar casinos in the state — Riverwalk Casino Hotel and Harlow’s Casino Resort & Spa.

The Pennsylvania partnership will cover both sports betting and online casino. Pennsylvania is expected to launch regulated online gambling in late 2018 or 2019. Churchill previously announced the acquisition of Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie.

The timeline for the launch of sports betting in PA is less defined. Many expect the state to reopen the sports betting conversation this year to revisit tax and license fee levels that have drawn widespread criticism from the industry.

Can NJ break the two dozen mark?

Most expect the number of online casino brands to hit 20 before the calendar closes on 2018. In addition to Churchill, there are two other entrants already confirmed:

That would bring the total number of brands in the state to 20, with more possible on the way, thanks to sports wagering. The new brands coming to the market add even more fuel to the fire for a state that had just set records for NJ online casino revenue in recent months before tailing off a bit in April.

Things are happening fast on sports betting

Dominoes are starting to fall quickly for those wanting to be involved in sports betting, and the Churchill-SBTech deal isn’t even the first example.

Paddy Power Betfair is close to acquiring daily fantasy sports site FanDuel, according to a report on Tuesday. That deal is likely aimed at least partially at the NJ market; Betfair NJ online casino already operates in the state, and PPB is largely known as a bookmaker outside of the US.

Expect more partnerships and deals to come in the days and weeks ahead.

What they are saying on the SBTech deal

“We are confident that our strategic partnership with SBTech provides us with an industry leading platform to offer innovative and exciting, integrated iGaming and sports betting products,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs. “We have the unique opportunity to leverage our knowledge and experience operating the largest legal online horse racing wagering business in the US as we enter the iGaming and sports betting markets.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Churchill Downs and to introduce our award-winning iGaming and sports betting platforms in the US,” said Richard Carter, Chief Executive Officer of SBTech. “We both share a deep commitment to technological innovation and excellence, and we look forward to working with them during this exciting time in the history of the U.S. gaming market.”

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