CDI Approved to Operate Wagering Hub in Oregon

Churchill Downs Inc. has received approval to operate a multi-jurisdictional account wagering hub in Oregon and plans to have its new betting service, twinspires.com, operational before the spring meet begins at Churchill Downs April 28.

Julie Koenig Loignon, vice president of communications for CDI, confirmed March 30 the company had submitted an application to the Oregon Racing Commission for a wagering hub and was approved at the commission’s last meeting March 15. CDI joins Magna Entertainment Corp., TVG, Youbet.com and other companies with account wagering hubs in Oregon.

Oregon was at the forefront of the advance deposit wagering boom when it adopted business-friendly regulations in the late 1990s. Companies with wagering hubs in Oregon pay only one-quarter of 1% of handle, revenue from which is used in part to fund live horse racing in the state.

“We are licensed in Oregon,” Koenig Loignon said. “We sought a license early so we wouldn’t have any regulatory hurdles.”

CDI said March 30 it would announce a launch date for twinspires.com in about two weeks. The first week of the Churchill meet features the grade I Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.

"We are testing the TwinSpires site right now and will determine a launch date as soon as the testing phase has been completed," Vernon Niven, executive vice president of technology initiatives for CDI, said in a statement.

CDI and MEC recently announced a joint ventured called TrackNet Media Group, which will buy and sell simulcast signals. The two companies, however, will operate their own account wagering services. (MEC’s XpressBet hubs through Oregon as well.)

Legislation authorizing international betting hubs became law in Kentucky in 2004. The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority adopted regulations for hub licensing and operation in 2006.

The hub regulations state an operator will be charged no more than $200 a day and a fee of not more than 1% of gross wagering receipts, and won’t be charged a surcharge on wagers. In effect, there could be no tax on handle under the statute.

No determination has been made on a location for a hub operation, though it's conceivable a racetrack with its tote capabilities could host it. KHRA executive director Lisa Underwood said the hub regulations technically aren't effective; the KHRA has been waiting to receive public comments, and after that, the regulations must be approved by an administrative subcommittee.

Koenig Loignon indicated CDI, a Kentucky-based company, had to proceed in Oregon given its timeline.

“That’s about what it boils down to,” Koenig Loignon said. “We’re going forward in Oregon, but we are open to other options.”

Keeneland and Turfway Park in Kentucky have exclusive contracts with TVG, which hubs through Oregon; Churchill has contracts with TVG but they begin expiring in April, so CDI is creating its own account wagering service.

 

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