Market Competitor Doesn't Sit Well With CDI

Churchill Downs Inc. and Daily Racing Form are at odds over the publishing company’s launch of an advance deposit wagering system powered by XpressBet.com, which is owned by CDI rival MI Developments.

CDI racetracks aren’t available for wagering through DRFBets.com, which launched in January. CDI operates the TwinSpires.com, the largest ADW system in the country after its purchase of Youbet.com.

CDI vice president of corporate communications Julie Koenig Loignon in late February said the situation stemmed from Daily Racing Form’s entry into the wagering business. DRFBets.com is considered a “white label” ADW in that the platform using existing technology from another provider, but DRF gets a cut of revenue.

It is believed DRF gauged the interest of multiple ADW providers before selecting XpressBet.com.

“Our company has a large investment in bricks-and-mortar facilities that serve horse racing customers every day we’re open for business,” Koenig Loignon said. “When DRF announced its intentions to open a branded account wagering service, we realized we would have to reevaluate our relationship with a company that previously only provided horse racing news and analysis, handicapping tools, and Equibase-sourced information to our customers, whether they wagered at a track, (off-track betting parlor), or online.

“In the past, DRF was simply a media company and we viewed CDI’s relationship with DRF as that of a business customer and a partner. In our role as customer and partner, CDI purchases advertising from the Form, and our locations serve as distribution outlets for DRF’s daily publication.

DRF has positioned itself as a media and wagering company, drastically changing its relationship with our racetracks, OTBs, and TwinSpires.com. That change in direction gives us pause.”

DRF chief executive officer John Hartig, who took the position in 2008, couldn’t be reached for comment on the situation with CDI and the new environment that has media companies branching out to find ways to increase revenue.

At the time of the interview Koenig Loignon confirmed CDI, which spends about $2.5 million a year with DRF, has reduced but not pulled its advertising.

On March 5, she addressed ongoing rumors that the situation has worsened, and that DRF may not be sold onsite at CDI properties

"I checked with our marketing team, and we continue to sell Daily Racing Forms at CDI tracks and OTBs," Koenig Loignon said. "We have also just had discussions with DRF staffers about our advertising purchases for the opening of our spring meets and for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks."

The Form continues to provide regular coverage of horse racing at CDI-owned tracks, including Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, which is currently open. Arlington Park, Calder Casino & Race Course, and Churchill Downs will open for live racing within the next month and a half.

“CDI and the racetracks and companies we own continue to have a relationship with Daily Racing Form,” Koenig Loignon said in late February. “We will continue to evaluate the parameters of that relationship. DRF’s recent decision to enter the wagering business through DRFBets.com has the potential to affect our dealings with DRF.”

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