How a Churchill Downs Casino Could Compete with Indiana Casinos
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear ran on a campaign that many boiled down to one issue, expanded gaming in Kentucky. Steve Beshear proposed that casino gambling through ufabet was the answer to the state’s financial woes. To that end, he recently introduced a plan that provides for up to 12 casinos, including seven based at the state’s horse racetracks. The big stumbling block for Kentucky’s premier racetrack, Churchill Downs, is that it will be facing off against the long-established Caesar’s Indiana. In order to complete the track effectively, they’ll have to do lots of things more effectively than Harrah’s owned Caesar’s. So how can they do it?
LOBBY FOR A SLIGHT CHANGE IN THE PLAN
Beshear’s casino gaming plan for Kentucky allows seven racetracks to place the casino onsite or elsewhere in the county. Churchill Downs should lobby for the opportunity to do both.
While Churchill Downs is on a sprawling property, as anyone who has attended an Oaks, Derby, or Breeder’s Cup can attest, the place can get crowded in a hurry. There is limited space for a hotel, convention, and resort area that the track would surely want to build for a casino. If I were Churchill Downs, I’d lobby for the ability to offer limited casino gaming (ie: slots only) on the property and the ability to build an offsite casino. This would allow the track to find the appropriate space to build a large casino facility AND offer casino gaming as an option at the track itself. This would enable Churchill to locate their casino closer to the new development in downtown Louisville and put them within walking distance of other downtown tourist attractions, plus put them closer to Louisville’s always thriving convention business. It would offer the additional benefit of allowing visitors to the track to choose their gaming options and provide an entertaining diversion between races.
BUILD THE CASINO DOWNTOWN
Even if this option wouldn’t fly, it makes sense to build the casino downtown, closer to 4th Street Live, the many museums, theatres, and new arena. The advantages of this are many. A downtown casino in Louisville would allow Churchill Downs to attract a much wider audience, including visiting conventioneers, downtown workers at lunch, and tourists from all over. The biggest problem with Caesar’s Indiana is that it is truly in the middle of nowhere. This means that it only attracts tourists who come for the casino, not who makes it a part of a bigger trip. Scheduling a stay at Caesar’s Indiana means that you know you’ll have little to do at the hotel BUT gamble. A Churchill Downs casino built within a thriving downtown will benefit the casino AND benefit the city itself.
BE SURE TO BUILD PLENTY OF HOTEL AND CONVENTION SPACE
Louisville brings in lots of conventions and if Churchill builds a casino, it needs to capitalize on it. A large hotel and convention space will help Churchill attract a chunk of this business and might serve to bring more important businesses and organizations to travel to Louisville for their convention and meeting needs. Churchill will reap the benefits and help the city at the same time.
PAY FOR TARC TROLLEY CIRCULATORS THROUGHOUT DOWNTOWN
A casino needs visitors to make a profit. Paying the city to provide free circulators throughout downtown that have the casino as a destination will help them bring in more money AND help serve the community.
DECIDE ON THE LEVEL OF PERKS THEY WANT TO OFFER AND STICK WITH IT
Caesar’s Indiana opened with a very nice rewards program for its patrons. Those who reached a certain level enjoyed a special area both on the boat and in the restaurant/hotel area. As the years progressed, Caesar’s cheapened the program, getting rid of free drinks, much of the free food, and the special rooms. Now heavy players can enjoy comps, but the idea of being “special” is gone. If Churchill makes it low, middle and high rollers feel more special than Caesar’s and KEEPS doing it, it will keep them coming back.
TURN THE CASINO INTO DERBY PARTY CENTRAL
Derby parties are a big deal and bring lots of national attention to Louisville. Bringing some of the local Derby parties to the Churchill Downs Casino will bring that attention to the track and the facilities there.
PRESERVE RACING AND CHURCHILL DOWN’S HISTORY AT THE CASINO
It is important that horse racing and the Churchill name be preserved wherever the track is built. If an offsite casino is built, Churchill Downs needs to offer simulcast facilities at that location. Additionally, the casino would be well served to offer an extension of its Kentucky Derby Museum exhibits at the location of the new casino.
KEEP IT EXCITING FOR THE LONG HAUL
As the years have progressed, the walk long walks into Caesar’s makes you feel less like a winner and more like a sheep on the way to have your wallet slaughtered. The walls have yellowed. The moving sidewalks often aren’t moving. The white clouds are now somewhat brownish. The numerous kiosks and displays that used to around have slowly disappeared. The displays of the numerous giveaways have disappeared. And the majority of the people who surround you look unhappy. Churchill can prevent this at their casino by not just treating it as a cash cow, but a destination to be enjoyed. Keeping the place lively, updated, and relevant, as well as clean will go along way toward that. And if they loosen up the slots a little bit, they’ll ensure that people are beating down the doors to get there.