Churchill Downs Readies Online Gambling Platform

Churchill Downs Inc. has been building an online platform for a gambling network at its headquarters in Louisville, according to disclosures in a lawsuit against a potential New Jersey partner that the company feels kept it out of the New Jersey online gambling market.

Churchill has added at least 30 employees to build the system. The company received state approval a year ago from Kentucky for tax incentives for up to 50 jobs paying an average of $168,480 a year with benefits in Louisville to develop the gambling system.

The company has filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey partner that claims he misled the company about his ability to purchase the Showboat casino In Atlantic City. All online gambling sites in New Jersey have to be partnered with an Atlantic City casino.

The company paid $2.5 million to businessman Nicholas Ribis’ NLR Entertainment, which planned to buy the Showboat from Caesars Entertainment Corp. and allow Churchill to operate its online gambling business.

Ribis counterclaims that Churchill was to pay him $7.5 million more for the purchase, but the company maintains thee payment was to come after the purchase. Ribis also claims Churchill was not able to supply the online site at the time, a claim the company denies.

Separately, the Showboat is now planning to close in August and Caesars has said it would consider selling the property to a competing casino company.

According to court papers, Churchill’s gambling platform was to be ready for a launch last year. Most of the technology for the system was to be located in Louisville, with a minimal amount of infrastructure in New Jersey to comply with state law.

Churchill spent $10 million to develop the system and still expects to enter the online market somewhere in the U.S.