Because of a contract dispute between the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association and Churchill Downs Inc., bettors have not been able to wager on the Kentucky Derby for two years. But officials from the association, which represents 90 Nevada racebooks, and the historic racetrack confirmed contract negotiations are proceeding and could be finalized ahead of the Run for the Roses on May 7.
The dispute, dating back to October 27, 2019, concerns how much Nevada casinos should pay for the Churchill Downs simulcast signal. That has kept racebooks from taking bets on races from the Louisville racetrack−with one exception. Nevada regulators approved a workaround allowing racebooks to take wagers on “nationally televised races” from Churchill Downs, which specifically allows betting on the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby. Last year, that was expanded to include the other graded stakes on the cards included in the NBC broadcast.
However, since the racebooks cannot co-mingle wagers with the Churchill Downs parimutuel pool, they are responsible for any losses they might incur. As a result, the racebooks that chose to offer betting on the Oaks and Derby have had to improvise their own wagering menus.
Last December, a breakthrough in the negotiations allowed racebooks to resume taking previously withheld races from other Churchill Downs Inc. properties, including Fair Grounds and Turfway Park, and Oaklawn Park, which has a contract with Churchill Downs to distribute its simulcast signal.
The year-end action has led caused an outbreak of optimism regarding the contract talks. Nevada Gaming and Control Board spokesman Michael Lawton said, “The board is hopeful that the negotiations are successful. However, if they are not, we could consider any waiver requests submitted pursuant to Reg. 22.080 as we have done previously,” referring to the
workaround the board approved two years ago.