The ongoing pandemic forced Churchill Downs Inc. to reschedule the prestigious Kentucky Derby to Labor Day weekend, and the situation wasn’t a great one for the gambling activity, CDI said.
According to a news release from CDI, wagering from all sources on the Kentucky Derby Day program totaled $126 million, compared to $250.9 million on the 2019 Kentucky Derby Day program.
As for the Kentucky Derby race, all-sources wagering was $79.4 million, down from a record $165.5 million from last year’s race.
Both declines were about 52% in a year-over-year comparison.
According to USA Today, early numbers show that TV viewership was down about 50%.
“The decline in handle for this year’s Derby Day program is attributable to the lack of on-track wagering, fewer horses per race including in the Kentucky Derby race, and a prohibitive favorite in the Derby race,” CDI said in a statement over the weekend.
There was a 4/5 (-125) favorite in the Derby race, with an 8/1 (+800) underdog winning it.
There were just 15 horses in the Derby race, which didn’t have spectators. In normal years, the Derby draws a six-figure crowd and has a roughly $400 million local economic impact.
— Churchill Downs (@ChurchillDowns) September 5, 2020
CDI content with the weekend, all things considered
Despite the undesirable conditions for the 2020 race due to the pandemic, CDI said it was “pleased” overall with the weekend.
“We are grateful to our fans and our community for their support of the 146th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI. “We look forward to seeing our loyal fans at next year’s 147th Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby on the first weekend of May.”
CDI has moved into the sports betting space in recent months. The company is live with online betting in Indiana, and late last month it secured a gambling deal with the Kambi Group, a sports wagering service provider expected to help further grow CDI’s product.
Kentucky, where CDI is headquartered, failed to legalize sports wagering in 2019 and 2020, but policymakers will try again in 2021.