Who is Churchill Downs Inc., the company set to receive the Vigo County casino license?

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTWO/WAWV) — Churchill Downs Inc. was selected by the Indiana Gaming Commission on Wednesday to receive the Vigo County casino operator’s license. But what exactly is the track record of the company best known for the Kentucky Derby?

Churchill Downs Inc., based in Louisville, Ky., is one of the nation’s leaders in racing, gaming and online wagering that started as a singular racetrack in 1875, according to CDI’s website. Up until around 16 years ago, according to CEO Bill Carstangen, the company’s only venture was hosting the Kentucky Derby and horseracing.

However, around the time Carstangen joined the company, CDI saw a need for a change and began to expand into brick-and-mortar gaming venues and online gaming. During CDI’s presentation to the IGC Wednesday, Carstangen described the company as “battle hardened and tested”.

“We are not a company that has never faced challenges,” he said.

Throughout the past decade and a half, Churchill Downs has grown from a $400 million market cap to an $11 billion market cap today, Carstangen told the IGC Wednesday.

As of 2021, Churchill Downs runs 10 regional casinos throughout the United States that support over 600 local nonprofits annually. Additionally, in 2007 the company created TwinSpires, an online casino gaming and sports betting service licensed nationwide.

Carstangen said the company has a large footprint in the casino market throughout the Midwest and East Coast and that CDI operates the largest gross gaming revenue facility in Illinois and Kentucky and the largest slot GGR facility in the Cincinnati region of Ohio. However, the company has no ventures yet in Indiana.

“Wherever we build and wherever we go, we’ve had success,” Carstangen said Wednesday. “We understand this region. We just haven’t had an opportunity in our time to invest in Indiana and become a part of Indiana.”

Now, the company is making plans for its 11th brick-and-mortar gaming facility: the Queen of Terre Haute Casino Resort. Carstangen told the IGC Wednesday that the company feels they have an opportunity to expand their influence to Indiana and that the market research they have done in the Vigo County area has been positive.

“We’ve got success that we can build on, so we’re charging right ahead,” Carstangen said Wednesday.

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