Churchill Downs to Open Downtown Louisville Game Room
The company that owns Churchill Downs Racecourse, home of the Kentucky Derby, made its own big bet Thursday by announcing plans to open a casino-style venue in downtown Louisville.
With its new entertainment center, to be called Derby City Gaming Downtown, the company is strengthening its commitment to a form of historic horse racing betting.
The site will open with 500 historic horse racing machines, Churchill Downs Inc. said in a press release. Slot machines in style allow people to bet on randomly generated past horse races. The games usually show condensed horse racing videos.
Such ventures have become lucrative sources of income for Kentucky racetracks. The tracks reinvested a portion of the revenue to make the Bluegrass state horse racing circuit more competitive with the tracks supported by casinos in other states.
Churchill’s new 43,000-square-foot site, slated to open in early 2023, will be approximately five miles from the historic racetrack where the first stage of the Triple Crown takes place. Construction will begin later this year, the company said.
The business will benefit the entire community and generate between $ 10 million and $ 12 million per year in additional scholarship for racing at Churchill Downs, said Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen.
“It is important that Louisville is a thriving city – a great place to live, work and visit – and we are committed to helping create economic dynamism for every area of our community,” he said.
The development will create 350 construction jobs and more than 100 permanent jobs once the site opens, the company said. It will be strategically located near the downtown convention center and several hotels. Louisville has become an increasingly important attraction for bourbon tourists visiting downtown distilleries. Churchill said his new entertainment venue will include an outdoor playground, bars and a retail store featuring Kentucky Derby-themed merchandise.
Casino gambling is illegal in Kentucky, but the state legislature has authorized the operation of historic horse racing sites. Those businesses were compromised last year when the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that at least some forms of historic horse racing betting did not meet pari-mutuel standards. Lawmakers this year passed a measure to correct the shortcomings cited by the court.
Churchill already operates another historic horse betting facility in Louisville. Its current Derby City Gaming site is in South Louisville, a few miles from the track.