One of the states working hard towards elevating its gambling industry on a new level is Kentucky, seeking ways in which it could bring more to its players. This week brought the news that a long-anticipated purchase arrangement between Saratoga Casino and Hospitality Group and Ellis Park Race Course is finally approaching its last stages following the approval given by the local authorities willing to see improvement on a state level.
The said racetrack is located in Henderson, Kentucky, providing its regular visitors and customers with thoroughbred races as a preferred pastime activity. The facility also has another potential for development, as it is conveniently situated near the border between Kentucky and Indiana, the closest city on the other side being Evansville, Indiana. Players coming from the northern state also have the chance to enjoy the offerings it provides them which is why the management of Saratoga Casino Hotel in New York has been eyeing the purchase for many months now.
Up to this point the group has been in possession of a 30-percent share of the famous racetrack and following serious contemplation and evaluation of the risks and the potential benefit from it, a final decision was reached. However, before this week there were only vague speculations regarding a purchase of Ellis Park Race Course, as the potential purchaser remained unknown to the public. The community was looking for signs as of who the potential purchaser might be and what the future of the facility was going to be, but to no avail.
The way for the deal was paved thanks to an arrangement which took place back in 2012 when the casino group first claimed a fair share of the facility. Back then Kentucky Horse Racing Commission voted in approval of the purchase deal of 30 percent, but along with that, there was also the additional agreement that Saratoga Casino and Hospitality could potentially purchase some 20 percent more or up to 100 percent of the venue and eventually become the new owner of the iconic location.
New Ownership ahead of Sports Betting Conversation
Ron Geary has been overseeing operation of the race course up until now and ever since 2006 when he purchased it from Churchill Downs Inc., he has been the major stakeholder at the venue. According to him, the move comes as he feels it would be best if he has more time to spend with his family and loved ones and leave the management of the prosperous race course to the experienced management.
This is expected to bring a breath of fresh air to the operation while at the same time bringing a seamless transition between the two management teams. Now that the official information has been issued, several days would be needed for it to be finalized and for the racetrack to become fully owned by the hospitality group. It could be recalled that Ellis Park has been through rough times in the past, as the first years after Mr. Geary’s purchase were not the strongest when it comes to revenue.
Things changed for the better once historical horse racing devices were installed on site, as they are one of the most popular gaming offerings in this type of venues even if there is sports betting available. This move coming from the management of Saratoga Casino’s management shows that the group is willing to explore new markets and potentially make a good use of the future sports betting field which is expected to receive regulation next year.
Ellis Park is known for its live racing which runs from July up until September across the summer and this is expected to be the case for next year as well. The track itself is shaped according to a previously established working model of Saratoga Race Course, introducing visitors to an already familiar setting.
The state of Kentucky is well on its way to becoming a fair competitor in the sports betting field come 2019 as the local lawmakers have already made clear their plans for introducing a properly regulated sports betting field to the region. According to the proposed bill, a mandatory licensing fee amounting to some $250,000 for every operator willing to participate in the future field. In addition to that, there will be a $25,000 fee for every annual renewal of the licensing.
According to the proposed bill, there would also be a tax applied to the field which would amount to 3 percent of the total amount wagered at a sports betting facility.