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In Rough Quarter for CDI, TwinSpires Provides Relief

29th April, 22:10

Track, casino owner Churchill Downs Inc. sees financial losses related to COVID-19.

As you might expect with the closing of casinos and many racetracks throughout the country because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Churchill Downs Inc. reported a rough first quarter with adjusted earnings down 26% compared with the first quarter of 2019 to $55.3 million.

Providing some positive news for the track and casino owner was its advance-deposit wagering operation,, which enjoyed a strong opening to the year. Even after many tracks closed for racing, the ADW accepted pari-mutuel wagers on the tracks that continued to race without fans, like Oaklawn Park, Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and others.

Bill Carstanjen, the CEO of the track and casino owner, said the company has had solid support from lawmakers in finding a way to move forward during the challenging times.

"During this unprecedented pandemic, we remain focused on the health and safety of our team members, customers, and communities," Carstanjen said. "We appreciate the support we are receiving from our state and local government and regulatory officials, as well as our community leaders who are reviewing our proposed safety protocols and working with us to determine the appropriate timing for reopening our properties."

Carstanjen noted that the company, which announced that the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) would be moved from the first Saturday in May to the first Saturday in September, was well positioned to handle some difficult times and is looking forward to better days. CDI-owned Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots closed its meet a week early and conducted its biggest day, Louisiana Derby (G2) Day, without fans.

"Our strong balance sheet and the deep experience and resilience of our team will enable us to emerge from these challenging times as a stronger company ready to execute on all of the growth opportunities we have shared with our investors," Carstanjen said. "We look forward to the 146th Kentucky Derby on September 5, which will be a special day for all of us as we celebrate together once again this magical and iconic event after such a difficult period for our country."

The company noted an 8.3% increase in revenue at its ADW

"U.S. Thoroughbred industry handle decreased 1.0% during the first quarter of 2020 compared to the prior year quarter. Although horse racing content for wagering decreased, TwinSpires handle grew 8.3% during the first quarter of 2020 compared to the prior year quarter as our customers wagered more on the content that was available," the company noted in its financial report. "Active players increased 11.6% for the first quarter of 2020 compared to the prior year quarter while net revenue per active player declined 3.5%."

Net revenue for CDI's online gaming segment, which includes an emerging sports wagering operation, was $67.7 million for the quarter, up from last year's $63.3 million.

The company also provided an update on activity related to COVID-19. That segment of the financial report follows in full.

COVID-19 update

The COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to limit the impact of COVID-19, including shelter-in-place orders, social distancing measures, travel bans and restrictions, and business and government shutdowns, have already resulted in significant negative economic impacts in the United States and in relation to our business.

The impact of COVID-19 on the company resulted in the temporary closure or suspension of operations at certain of our properties beginning on March 14, 2020, as a precautionary measure in cooperation with state and local authorities in order to protect our employees, customers, and communities. The supplemental information in this release provides additional detail on the properties that have been impacted. The company is fully committed to working with relevant federal, state and local authorities to determine when it is safe and permitted for each property to reopen.

On March 25, 2020, as a result of these temporary closures, the company announced the temporary furlough of employees at its wholly-owned gaming properties and certain wholly-owned racing operations. The company is continuing to provide health, dental, vision and life insurance benefits to furloughed employees at our wholly-owned properties. The company also implemented a salary reduction for all remaining non-furloughed salaried employees based on a percentage that varies dependent upon the amount of each employee's salary. The most senior level of executive management has received the largest salary decrease, based on both percentage and dollar amount. The salary reductions will remain in effect until the company begins to return to normalized operations.

There have been a number of other aspects of our business that have been impacted by COVID-19 during the three months ended March 31, 2020, including the following:

* The company rescheduled the 146th Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Derby from May 1-2, 2020 to September 4-5, 2020. Kentucky Derby week race dates and related events will begin Sept. 1, 2020.

* Starting in mid-February 2020, U.S. and international sporting events were canceled, which reduced our sports betting options for our customers.

* Horse racing content for wagering on TwinSpires decreased, although handle increased as our customers wagered more on the content that was available.