Churchill Downs drone

Churchill Downs' historic racetrack at 700 Central Avenue in Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Fresh off a $32 million project to improve the entry way to its Louisville racetrack, it would be "very logical" for Louisville-based Churchill Downs to consider a hotel or casino-like gaming for its iconic track on Central Avenue, but the company isn't ready to share its plans, CEO Bill Carstanjen told Wall Street analysts on Thursday.

Asked during the company's quarterly earnings call about the possibility of adding a hotel or "boutique casino property" to the racetrack, Carstanjen said:

Certainly those are very logical things for us to be considering. Further hospitality at the Derby, particularly around a hotel, and certainly the way our license works with respect to historical racing machines, gives us the right to place those machines at the racetrack.

So certainly those are things that we think about, but we don’t have anything specific to announce at this time on those items or any others.

Churchill Downs first floated the hotel / instant racing possibilities for its Louisville track in an investor presentation in November.

The company will further describe its "growth initiatives including capital expenses for the future" during its next earnings update in July, Carstanjen said Thursday.

Kentucky lawmakers aren't likely to legalize casino gambling anytime soon, but Churchill Downs and other racetracks have been able to offer slot-like historical racing machines since 2010.

Carstanjen's comment referred to Churchill Downs' license for historical racing machines for its off-track Derby City Gaming facility that opened last fall on Poplar Level Road.

Derby City Gaming is a rising star in Churchill's business portfolio, with what Carstanjen called a "best in class" 41 percent profit margin for the January-March quarter.

Executives said Thursday that they would add 100 historical racing machines to the floor at Derby City Gaming, bringing the total to 1,000, in mid-May.  

That would still leave Churchill Downs room to add up to 1,000 historical racing machines at the track itself, as its license with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is for a total of 2,000 machines.

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