Presque Isle Downs May Be Location for Online Gaming in Pennsylvania

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With its location close to Erie, in the Keystone State’s north western corner, Presque Isle Downs and Casino was built specifically for the purpose, unlike most other gambling properties in the state.

Presque Isle Downs was only opened in 2007, with construction on the project having started in 2005 just following the announcement that the state had authorized the use of slots at race tracks. February 2007 saw its gaming floor opened with racing operations being launched just a couple of months later. In 2010, table games appeared on the scene turning the resort into a fully fledged racino.

Horse racing takes place between May and October, with the key event being the G2 $400,000 Presque Isle Masters Stakes. At a mile in length, this synthetic thoroughbred track stands at one of the longest of its type anywhere nationwide.

Presently, Presque Isle Downs is owned and operated by Eldorado Resorts, however that all looks like , it’s about to change some time this year.

Back in March, plans were announced by Churchill Downs Inc to buy the property at a cost of $179 million cash, and that transaction is expected to be closed at some point later in the year. CDI, a Kentucky based company, has been spending a lot recently, buying up casinos across several states and it seems to be no coincidence that the company’s ever-growing portfolio is expanding into those states which are moving into online sports betting and gambling. As a longstanding racing company, CDI is also likely to be interested in the thoroughbred operations of the property too.

Presque Isle’s Casino Performance

As one of the smallest casinos in Pennsylvania, Presque Isle’s gaming floor is just under 50,000 square feet with only 1600 slots and 30 table games as well as a smaller poker room. 800 people are employed between the racing operations and the casino of the property. Generating only $125 million in terms of revenue during the fiscal year 2016-2017, Presque Isle currently comes near the bottom of the state’s gambling revenue leaderboard, with only around $70 million being given back in tax to state and local offices. Yet, while revenue isn’t exactly rolling in, there’s no reason to worry since CDI’s plans for Presque Isle will extend far beyond the existing property lines.

Presque Isle’s Online Gambling Potential

When CDI first expressed interest in the Presque Isle property, online gambling played a significant role in their announcement. Bill Carstanjen, the CEO of CDI made no secret of the fact that Presque Isle would give the company a strong foothold in a state which has passed legislation in recent times to authorize online gaming for real money.

CDI also acquired another Eldorado casino property, this time in Mississippi, one more state which is leaning towards online sports betting. Three of their other properties are in Illinois, Kentucky and Louisiana, all of which are making moves towards online sports betting and gambling.

Thus, it seems clear that CDI is working with the goal of expanding dramatically into the digital arena. Already, CDI operates one of the US’s biggest regulated websites for horse betting, TwinSpires, however online sports betting and gambling is becoming their new focus of operation. For a number of years the company has been looking for a way in, even attempting to buy Atlantic City’s Showboat property, and now it has been able to gain its foothold in Pennsylvania it has been open about its ambitions.

As for the branding of the property, this appears to be key to the success of the venture. At present, neither Churchill Downs nor Presque Isle are recognized iGaming brands, and they must find a way of overcoming this obstacle either through marketing or via a partnership. The good news, however, is that Presque Isle is located over 100 miles away from the nearest competition in-state so control over the local area seems guaranteed.

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