07/18/2012 12:02PM

Churchill Downs Inc. applies for online poker license in Nevada


Churchill Downs Inc. is one of 30-plus companies to have submitted applications for an online poker license in Nevada, officials of the Nevada Gaming Control Board confirmed on Wednesday.

The application for an online poker license follows Churchill’s acquisition earlier this year of Bluff Media, a multimedia poker company that owns several undeveloped website domains. Churchill officials have said that they plan to explore opportunities in online gambling as they become available as the company seeks to diversify with businesses outside of racing.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board has already approved three applications for online poker from gambling companies. Last December, Nevada passed regulations allowing for online poker, restricted to customers who are located physically within the state, and the first sites are expected to begin online operations shortly before the end of 2012.

The landscape is expected to be crowded. With almost three dozen applicants, residents and tourists in Nevada will have a surfeit of options for online poker. But most companies are willing to operate at low margins in the state in order to establish a foothold in the online poker marketplace, which could explode if prohibitions on online poker are eliminated by the federal government.

A spokesperson for the gaming control board said that no other companies with horseracing assets had applied yet for a license, though two English bookmaking companies, Paddy Power and William Hill, had filed applications.

Churchill officials had not returned calls for comment by early Wednesday afternoon.