Churchill Downs Racetrack has been forced to cut purses by 20 percent, effective Wednesday, May 14, because the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (“KHBPA”) and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association (“KTA”) have blocked the distribution of Churchill Downs’ simulcast signal to national advance-deposit wagering (“ADW”) sites, including TwinSpires.com., the official ADW site for Churchill Downs Incorporated (“Company”).
“We have been left with no option but to reduce overnight purses to offset the amount of lost handle because Kentucky horsemen have prevented horse racing fans from wagering through ADW platforms,” said Churchill Downs President Steve Sexton. “We are disappointed because the failure to send the signal will negatively impact the product both on and off the racetrack. While we are still hopeful this impasse can be resolved, we have no choice but to act now.”
KHBPA and KTA representatives continue to reject all offers from Churchill Downs and recently instructed further discussions be conducted with the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group (“THG”), an alliance of horsemen’s groups from around the country.
“Since Churchill Downs’ entry into the ADW business in 2007, we have nearly doubled host fees paid by ADW businesses to our racetracks and horsemen partners through successful negotiations with local horsemen. Kentucky horsemen and the THG are now demanding even more, but their plan is simply not feasible for ADW companies, including TwinSpires.com,” said Sexton. “As the result of over $3 million in online marketing we’ve spent so far this year, we have added 13,000 new TwinSpires.com customers and have added $25 million in new deposits. We would like those customers to be able to wager those funds on Churchill Downs races, but the KHBPA and KTA have refused to allow us to do so.”
The Churchill Downs’ purse reductions will affect overnight purses, with potential for Fall Meet stakes race purses to be reduced in the future.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009. The track’s 2008 Spring Meet runs from April 26 through July 6. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record six times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.
Information set forth in this news release contains various “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the “Act”) provides certain “safe harbor” provisions for forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements made in this news release are made pursuant to the Act. The reader is cautioned that such forward-looking statements are based on information available at the time and/or management’s good faith belief with respect to future events, and are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed in the statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date the statement was made. We assume no obligation to update forward-looking information to reflect actual results, changes in assumptions or changes in other factors affecting forward-looking information. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by the use of terms such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “predict,” “project,” “should,” “will,” and similar words, although some forward-looking statements are expressed differently. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, we can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from expectations include: the effect of global economic conditions; the effect (including possible increases in the cost of doing business) resulting from future war and terrorist activities or political uncertainties; the economic environment; the impact of increasing insurance costs; the impact of interest rate fluctuations; the effect of any change in our accounting policies or practices; the financial performance of our racing operations; the impact of gaming competition (including lotteries and riverboat, cruise ship and land-based casinos) and other sports and entertainment options in those markets in which we operate; the impact of live racing day competition with other Florida and Louisiana racetracks within those respective markets; costs associated with our efforts in support of alternative gaming initiatives; costs associated with customer relationship management initiatives; a substantial change in law or regulations affecting pari-mutuel and gaming activities; a substantial change in allocation of live racing days; changes in Illinois law that impact revenues of racing operations in Illinois; the presence of wagering facilities of Indiana racetracks near our operations; our continued ability to effectively compete for the country’s top horses and trainers necessary to field high-quality horse racing; our continued ability to grow our share of the interstate simulcast market; our ability to execute our acquisition strategy and to complete or successfully operate planned expansion projects; our ability to successfully complete any divestiture transaction; our ability to execute on our temporary and permanent slot facilities in Louisiana; market reaction to our expansion projects; the loss of our totalisator companies or their inability to provide us assurance of the reliability of their internal control processes through Statement on Auditing Standards No. 70 audits or to keep their technology current; the need for various alternative gaming approvals in Louisiana; our accountability for environmental contamination; the loss of key personnel; the impact of natural disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma on our operations and our ability to adjust the casualty losses through our property and business interruption insurance coverage; any business disruption associated with a natural disaster and/or its aftermath; our ability to integrate businesses we acquire, including our ability to maintain revenues at historic levels and achieve anticipated cost savings; the impact of wagering laws, including changes in laws or enforcement of those laws by regulatory agencies; the effect of claims of third parties to intellectual property rights; and the volatility of our stock price.