LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Churchill Downs officials broke ground Wednesday on a $60 million historical racing machine (HRM) facility on Poplar Level Road.
The 85,000-square-foot facility will be called "Derby City Gaming." It's expected to open in the fall of 2018 at 4520 Poplar Level Road, which is the site of Churchill Downs' Trackside location and the former home of Louisville Downs.
In a news release, Churchill Downs Racetrack president Kevin Flanery said the new facility "pays homage to the place we call home."
Historical racing, also called "instant" racing, allows gamblers to bet on races that have already run. Players must bet on the old matchups without knowing anything about the race before wagering.
"It will be a state-of-the-art gaming facility where people can come out and play games that are fueled by old races but are played on machines that I think they will find very familiar," Flanery said.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission granted approval for the facility earlier this year.
But the project is a gamble for Churchill Downs. Several other Kentucky tracks already have historical racing, but courts have yet to rule on whether it's actually legal. The Family Foundation of Kentucky is part of a lawsuit involving it, but the case is still being heard.
"We are surprised that Churchill Downs and other tracks are wanting to move ahead before any legislator has voted to make these legal and before any court has ruled," said Family Foundation President Kent Ostrander.
Churchill Downs acknowledged the risk.
"Every project we put our money is we know that we have to take a leap of faith," Flanery said. "But we've done our homework. We think this is something that people will really enjoy."
The new facility is expected to create more than 200 full-and part-time jobs.
Horse trainer Dale Romans said the facility will pump more money into the industry.
"A win for horse racing is a win for all of Kentucky," Romans said.
Derby City Gaming will be the only facility of its kind in Louisville, with two quick-service, walk-up food venues, as well as a bar with seating for 50 and big screen TVs.
The gaming area will feature 600 historical racing machines, a simulcast wagering area and a player’s club reward center.
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