Last week, rumors surfaced that Churchill Downs was considering selling its TwinSpires Racing division. One market observer believes that a familiar name could make a bid. Brian Lichtor, a Roundhill Investments analyst, believes it is likely that TwinSpires will mention Fanatics as a potential suitor. He cites Fanatics’ well-known wagering ambitions.
Fanatics Looks For Larger Industry Stake
Privately-held sports merchandise company Sports Direct has been linked to takeover rumors involving Rush Street Interactive, as well as Sweden’s Betsson. This chatter is only three months old. It hasn’t even reached the public realm, at least not yet. Fanatics could easily swallow the $30 billion valuations of TwinSpires, which includes its trading card units and non-fungible tokens.
Roundhill’s Lichtor says that although it is not clear if TwinSpires would be sold in its entirety or TwinSpires Racing, the horseracing division, a potential sale of TwinSpires would be worth $1.5 billion for a company valued at just over $8.5 billion.
Bloomberg was informed by sources familiar with the matter that it is possible for Churchill to sell TwinSpires in whole or in part or keep the entire company in-house.
TwinSpires is a compelling target at a time when deal-making and related rumors are reaching a fever pitch in the iGaming and sports wagering industries.
According to Bill Carstanjen, Churchill Downs’ CEO, the third quarter’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) derived from online horseracing jumped 56% over the comparable period in 2019. This was according to the company’s earnings conference call. He also noted that the online horse racing handle increased 31% in September.
TwinSpires in a Good Spot
TwinSpires has a competitive advantage because TwinSpires’ online casino and sports betting aren’t yet profitable.
“Our TwinSpires sports and casino business delivered topline growth as well,” said Carstanjen. He added that due to the increased marketing spend, the net loss in adjusted EBITDA was nearly $11 million in the quarter for this business. Carstanjen expects the company to go live in Louisiana and Maryland early next year, adding to the eight states where it is already operational.
Fanatics filed patents to protect various brands related to sports betting, confirming its intent to play on the international stage. Lichtor points out that the company wants to have market access in New York, something TwinSpires does not have.
There are likely to be others interested in the company. If Churchill can command the $1.5-billion price, it would have one of the most impressive balance sheets in gaming.
The operator agreed to sell more than 115 acres it holds at Calder Casino in South Florida last month for $291 million.