Churchill Downs Enters Historical Racing Machines Deal With Aristocrat Gaming

  • Aristocrat Gaming will supply games to CDI’s Kentucky HRM facilities
  • CDI currently has about 3,050 HRMs across its three facilities in the state
  • The machines contribute important revenue to the US horse racing industry
  • Wagers on HRMs topped $2.2bn in the fiscal year 2020 in Kentucky
Churchill Downs Incorporated website
Aristocrat Gaming will be supplying HRMs to Churchill Downs Incorporated facilities in Kentucky as part of a newly inked deal. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Aristocrat to supply HRMs to CDI facilities

Aristocrat Gaming has signed a deal with Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) that will see it supply historical racing machines (HRMs) to CDI facilities in Kentucky.

The properties include Derby City Gaming in Louisville, Newport Racing & Gaming, and Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel. The Turfway Park Racing & Gaming facility, set to open in Florence next year, is also on the list.

In an announcement on Friday, CDI outlined some of the specific Aristocrat HRM titles that will be available at its facilities, such as Wild Lepre’Coins and Buffalo. These games operate through Ainsworth’s HRM system.

HRMs are similar to regular slot machines in the way they look and operate. Unlike regular slot machines, they do not use an algorithm to randomize the results of the spins. Instead, a historical horse race is anonymized and used to determine the outcome of the spin. HRMs are also pari-mutuel, so the bets are pooled together and divided among the winners.

Enhancing CDI’s facilities

CDI senior vice president of gaming operations Austin Miller said of the new agreement: “Aristocrat is a leader in offering the top games in the industry and we’re ecstatic to add their top games to our HRM locations.” He explained that Aristocrat’s innovative hardware and content will help CDI to expand its games offering and attract Aristocrat’s “loyal customer base”.

Aristocrat’s innovative hardware and content will help CDI to expand its games offering

Jon Hanlin, Aristocrat Gaming’s senior vice president of commercial strategy and business analytics, also welcomed the agreement. He spoke about how CDI is a leader in the HRM entertainment venue space, and that Aristocrat looks forward to supplying these facilities with its game content.

CDI is the host of the iconic Kentucky Derby race and offers land-based casino gaming in eight states. The company also owns and operates the TwinSpires brand, which offers online sports betting, race betting, and online casinos across the United States, plus seven retail sportsbooks.

A number of other companies also provide games to CDI’s HRM facilities. These include Konami Gaming, Ainsworth, International Game Technology (IGT), and Scientific Games. CDI currently has three HMR facilities in Kentucky, containing about 3,050 machines.

HRMs in Kentucky

Kentucky currently has six HRM facilities, all of which help provide funds to the state’s racing industry. Revenues boost prize purses, attract better fields for races, and help the racing industry in Kentucky to compete with major states like California, Florida, and New York.

on track to hit a handle figure of $3.75bn

In the fiscal year 2020, bettors spent over $2.2bn on HRMs in Kentucky. The operators of the venues hosting the machines earned almost $189m from the handle generated, while the state only got about $15m. Based on recent figures, HRMs in the fiscal year 2021 are on track to hit a handle figure of $3.75bn.

HRMs are not without controversy in Kentucky. In September 2020, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that HRMs did not fall under the pari-mutuel wagering category and were therefore not constitutional in the state. However, the Kentucky legislature approved legislation in February this year to ensure that the machines remain legal.