Churchill Downs opts out of gaming licence in Illinois

Churchill Downs said that Arlington will conduct horse racing in 2020 and 2021.
Churchill Downs said that Arlington will conduct horse racing in 2020 and 2021.

The company Churchill Downs has announced a strategic update in regards to the Arlington International Racecourse from Illinois.

US.- Churchill Downs Incorporated, owner of Arlington International Racecourse in Arlington Heights, Illinois, has announced that Arlington did not apply to the Illinois Gaming Board for a slot machine and table game licence under the recently enacted Illinois Gaming Act.

Through a press statement, Churchill Downs said that Arlington will conduct horse racing in 2020 and 2021. The racecourse will also apply for a sports betting licence while it explores longer-term alternatives. 

“Churchill Downs and the team at Arlington will continue to work with legislative and community stakeholders, as well as Arlington’s customers, employees and horsemen to find a solution that takes into account the many constituents across the State of Illinois who depend on horse racing for their livelihoods. All options will be considered, including moving the racing license to another community in the Chicagoland area or elsewhere in the state,” said the company.

The CEO’s word

Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs, said that taking into account the company’s commitment to the Illinois Thoroughbred racing industry, the economic terms under which Arlington would receive a casino gaming licence don’t provide an acceptable financial return. “we cannot responsibly proceed,” said Carstanjen.

“The Chicagoland market has seen a significant proliferation of video gaming terminals over the last several years and now faces the potential introduction of five new gaming facilities as well as increased gaming positions at existing casinos and video gaming outlets. Arlington would enter this market with an effective tax rate that would be approximately 17.5% to 20% higher than the existing Chicagoland casinos due to contributions to the Thoroughbred purse account. This disadvantage in a hyper-competitive gaming market, coupled with substantial licensing and reconciliation fees and new, unviable horse racing requirements in the Illinois Gaming Act, makes construction of a casino at Arlington financially untenable. It is with a heavy heart that we conclude that we can’t make this work.”

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