Bettors, Hold Your Horses: TwinSpires Sportsbook Is A Scratch

Posted on February 24, 2022

TwinSpires has long been associated with the horse race industry. And apparently, that’s exactly how it shall remain.

The brand will soon make its exit out of the sports betting and online casino markets to reign its focus back toward horse racing and retail casinos.

TwinSpires Sportsbook will soon be out of the races

It wasn’t until March 2021 that TwinSpires Sportsbook made its official Tennessee launch. One year later, it will now be making its exit.

Bill Carstanjen, CEO of the brand’s parent company Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI), announced the news during an earnings call this week:

“We will exit the [business to consumer] online wagering space. This isn’t the result we wanted, but it is the prudent next step. We remain excited about TwinSpires horse racing.”

Before launching under the TwinSpires name, CDI originally operated its sports betting ventures as BetAmerica — a brand that has since been dissolved.

Fast forward to today, and TwinSpires currently operates its online sportsbook in eight states:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee

However, the operator never truly got off to the races. CDI’s 2021 earnings report revealed $31.9 million in losses for its sports betting sector.

The sportsbook’s Tennessee struggles only contributed to that deficit. Its handle in the state was none too impressive compared to Tennessee’s top sportsbooks.

When seven sportsbooks were operational in the state, only two brands were less popular than TwinSpires. An August 2021 report revealed that Tennessee bettors wagered south of $4 million at the sportsbook during the entire month.

While an official plan for dissolving online gaming operations has yet to be revealed, CDI’s decision will likely soon become apparent.

TwinSpires’ Tennessee license is set to expire in less than three weeks on Thursday, March 17.

CDI veers toward horse race betting and casinos

So what exactly will CDI be focusing its ventures on in lieu of online gaming?

For one, the brand intends to take an even deeper dive into the world of horse racing.

According to Carstanjen, TwinSpires held roughly 40% of horse betting market share before COVID, increasing to a robust 60% in 2020. Since then, he says the brand has secured a consistent 50% market share average.

CDI is already well-known for hosting the annual Kentucky Derby at its world-famous Churchill Downs racetrack. Going forward, CDI intends to launch subsequent tracks in the near future.

Additionally, the brand plans to expand its presence within the brick-and-mortar casino industry. Along with its live and historical racing hubs peppered across Kentucky, CDI operates a variety of gaming properties spanning from Florida to Maine.

To continue this expansion, CDI plans to open additional casinos.

Only time will tell what the future holds for the TwinSpires name. One thing’s for sure, though. By the time the sports betting world swishes into March Madness, Rocky Top will no longer be home sweet home to TwinSpires.

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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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