A bit late out of the starting gate but not too many lengths behind, Churchill Downs Inc., the owners of the famed Kentucy racetrack that hosts the Kentucky Derby, have applied for an online poker license with the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Through twinspires.com, the company offers advance-deposit online wagering for its many racetracks, which include Harlow's Casino Resort & Hotel in Greenville, Mississippi, Calder Casino & Race Course in Miami Gardens, Florida, Arlington Park racetrack in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans, Louisiana. Twinspires also accepts bets on races from tracks throughout the country.
In 2010, Churchill Downs purchased Youbet.com and melded it into its twinspires website. In February of this year, the company bought Bluff Media, which focuses on poker-related content that includes BluffMagazine.com, as well as BluffPoker.com and Bluff.com. Known as the largest Internet horse-racing company in the United States, Churchill Downs is looking to expand its operations into online poker and has been “spending lots of time focusing on poker and egaming,” said Ted Gay, the company's chief strategy officer.
Churchill Downs is reportedly negotiating with several providers, such as Ongame and Playtech, in anticipation of rolling out its own online poker network.
So far in Nevada, gaming regulators have approved licenses for Bally Technologies and International Game Technology to provide interactive online gaming. Shuffle Master has received preliminary approval and is expected to be formally licensed later this month.