Churchill Downs, which has applied for Internet gaming license in Nevada, sees itself as well-positioned to compete in the U.S. online gaming market, in part because it has taken advantage of the U.S. racing industry’s online wagering exemption, said D. Brett Hale, senior vice president, corporate and government affairs

“There currently is legal online gambling in the U.S. and it’s a result of the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, which gives the racing industry safe harbor from the Wire Act,” said Hale, who spoke at G2E’s iGaming Congress. “In 2001, that legislation was amended to allow a distribution channel online. Churchill didn’t enter that market until 2007, but we now take about $800 million in legal wagers from over 40 jurisdictions in the U.S. That will certainly help us, having operated in the U.S. with a geographic footprint of brick-and-mortar operations and its integration with our online business. We’re not as sophisticated as the leading European operators, but we think our experience will be very helpful as we move forward in the U.S. online marketplace.”

Hale expects California and Illinois will move forward in online gaming, “simply because they need the revenue. This is a huge revenue generator without a lot of risk for a state perspective. I think legislators in both states don’t have an aversion to gaming, or gaming online, it’s just figuring out who is going to win the right to be licensees in those jurisdictions between competing interest groups.”