The mystery surrounding sports betting plans for Presque Isle Downs & Casino is solved.

PlayPennsylvania confirmed last week that the Erie-based racetrack and casino submitted its application for a $10 million license to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) on Dec. 7.

Presque Isle Downs is the seventh PA casino to apply for a sports betting license.

So far, three casinos have launched temporary retail sportsbooks. Hollywood opened on Nov. 17SugarHouse and Rivers followed on Dec. 15. Parx and Harrah’s have been approved to offer sports betting. Both expect to open their respective retail operations during the first quarter of 2019. Valley Forge Casino was approved for its sports betting license at the Dec. 19 PGCB meeting. The board is scheduled to meet again Jan. 9.

Churchill Downs taking over   

There was never a question if Presque Isle Downs would offer sports betting. It was more a matter of when will it happen. Churchill Downs Inc. announced back in March it was purchasing the property from Eldorado Resorts. This will be the Kentucky-based company’s first, and currently only casino within Pennsylvania state lines.  

Churchill Hill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen addressed the pending sale and sports betting plans during the company’s third-quarter earnings call last month. He said the sale should close “early in or at least mid-first quarter 2019.”

As far as the sports betting plans go, Carstanjen spoke briefly about the retail and online plans:

‘We are also very interested in sports wagering and will file for that license when we have clarity on our transaction closing date. It is worth noting that a sports wagering license would allow a brick-and-mortar sportsbook at Presque Isle Downs as well as an online offering available throughout the state.”

Sports betting partners SBTech
and Golden Nugget

Churchill working with the Nugget in NJ

Churchill Downs, Golden Nuggetand SBTech are building a partnership in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets. In New Jersey, the three companies are working together on the Golden Nugget Atlantic City online sportsbook. There is no launch date yet. 

SBTech and BetAmerica working together in PA

SBTech, the award-winning, European-based platform provider,  will be using its BetAmerica brand to operate the Presque Isle Downs site.

Churchill Downs made its Pennsylvania sports betting intentions clear back in May when it reached a long-term strategic agreement with SBTech to partner up. The deal was brokered the same week that the Supreme Court ruled the Professional Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional.

SBTech CEO Richard Carter shared his thoughts in a May press release:

“We are thrilled to have Churchill Downs as our first US partner. Churchill is not only an iconic brand with the largest online horse race wagering business in the US, but it is also one of the fastest-growing gaming operators in the nation. The combination of Churchill’s leading presence in the US market, coupled with SBTech’s deep expertise in regulated sports betting markets globally, makes for an ideal partnership as we enter this monumental chapter in the US gaming industry.”

Carstanjen commented on the partnership in the same release, too:

“We are very excited to partner with SBTech, which we believe provides us with the industry leading platform to offer exciting, innovative integrated iGaming and sports betting products. We have the unique opportunity to leverage our knowledge and experience as this market emerges, and look forward to working with a global technology leader in this space as we expand our operations across the US.”

The game of sports betting connecting the dots continued into July when SBTech announced a separate agreement to supply “cutting-edge omnichannel solutions” to Golden Nugget casinos based in Biloxi and Atlantic City. 

Once approved for a license, it’ll be off to the races at Presque Isle Downs. Except this race will not involve the ponies.