Churchill Downs acquires Mississippi casino

Kentucky Derby-host Churchill Downs has acquired a Mississippi casino as the group continues to bolster its gambling operations.

In a deal worth $138 million, the Louisville-based firm has purchased Harlow’s Casino Resort & Hotel in Greenville.

Harlow’s is presently owned by Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, Oak Hill Advisors, and private investor Jess Ravich, with the deal expected to close in six months.

The resort – on the banks of the Mississippi River – was launched in 2007, with an initial investment of $70 million.

The 1930s-themed facility has a 33,000-square-foot casino, a 105-room hotel and an arena with 2,600 seats. Also on offer are 841 slot machines, 23 table games and a poker room.

Harlow’s had $50.4 million in revenue for the year ended July 31st.

Churchill stock up following deal


“The key determinants of our decision to acquire Harlow’s were further strategic business and geographic diversification,” explained Churchill president Robert Evans.

“With the acquisition of Harlow’s, we continue our diversification strategy across our racing, gaming and online business units.”

In November last year Churchill purchased online horse-race handicapping and betting site for $126.8 million.

Churchill has outlined plans to keep all 400 Harlow’s employees after the acquisition.

The acquisition marks Churchill’s first move into Mississippi.

The state has the fourth-largest commercial casino - as opposed to those owned by American Indian tribes - gambling market in the United States by revenue, trailing Nevada, New Jersey and Indiana.

Besides its namesake track in Louisville, Churchill Downs owns three other race tracks — Arlington Park, Calder Casino & Race Course and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans.