Churchill Downs, owner of Kentucky’s famous race track, has purchased Eldorado ResortsPresque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie Pennsylvania and the Lady Luck Casino in Vicksburg Mississippi for $178.9m and $50.6m respectively.

The acquisitions, said the operator, represent an appealing investment that fits with its existing portfolio. Presque Isle gives Churchill a presence in Pennsylvania and its pending online gaming market as well as an inroad to the potentially lucrative regulation of the sports betting business. The Lady Luck Vicksburg, meanwhile, is adjacent to Churchill’s Riverwalk Casino and brings the company operational efficiencies in a stable region.

According to Eldorado Resorts, the sale does not detract from its aim to achieve continued growth across the US. The decision to sell, it said, is consistent with its strategy of maximising returns from its portfolio of regional gaming assets through investments in new properties as well as opportunistic divestitures.  

Churchill Downs and Eldorado Resorts have each targeted ambitious expansion of late. The former is cited as the US’ most profitable racetrack operator having acquired casinos and racinos in Mississippi, Ohio and Maine. Eldorado saw its stature swell via the $1.7bn merger with Isle of Capri Casinos in 2017 in a deal that effectively doubled its size with 19 properties spread across 10 American states.