Wednesday October 17, 2012 : CHURCHILL DOWNS HAS HIGH HOPES ONLINE LUCKITY
 
Luckity is US-legal, exploiting a federal law carve-out that allows interstate gambling on horse races.
 
Churchill Downs Inc.’s newest online gambling site takes advantage of carve-outs in US federal law that permit interstate gambling on horse races.
 
Luckity.com gamblers can bet their lucky number or have the game choose a number for them. But rather than spinning wheels, horses in races running live somewhere around the world determine a winning bet.
 
Because of the reliance on live horse racing, the game is still a far cry from an online slot machine with instantaneous results, the Courier-Journal newspaper commented this week. And pay-outs can vary greatly, since they’re based on the pari-mutuel pool.
 
The target demographic is women over 35 who enjoy online slots, the lottery and social networking games, Ted Gay, president of the newly created Churchill Downs Interactive told the newspaper. The Luckity target customer is more likely to attend night racing and bet casually on their favourite names or jockeys, he said.
 
Gay declined to specify the amount invested in Luckity or discuss revenue projections. But he said horse owners and true horse bettors stand to see bigger purses and pay-outs as more money goes into the betting pool.
 
The product appears to have the support of the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, who’s Marty Maline said:
 
“You applaud them for thinking of new things,” adding the caveat: “Nobody really understands it fully. I don’t know that they understand it fully, in terms of how it will impact business."
 
Overnights and early weekdays will be slower for Luckity because of the limited number of races available. Weekends will be the peak time, as more races run domestically and internationally.
 
The site offers 24 cash games, with more planned, and attempts to reduce pari-mutuel wagering to simpler terms.
 
Different names are given for games and wagers, which are categorized to give players an idea of whether they’re betting on something – like a single-race win, place or show bet – where they’ll know the outcome fairly quickly, the newspaper explains, giving as an example Bubble Pop, where players to pop three numbered bubbles in what is traditionally known as a trifecta, where bettors have to pick the first three finishers in order.
 
The Luckity site also offers a free-to-play bingo game that offers “clovers” to winners; these can be entered in a weekly drawing for $250, keeping players involved during quiet periods.
 
According to Gay, Luckity has been in development for a year and has been undergoing stringent testing for weeks. There are plans to launch the game for mobile devices soon.
 
Churchill Downs senior vice president Brett Hale explained that in terms of US law the new product is fully legal:
 
“We changed the interface, but it’s essentially the same back end,” Hale said. “I think an objective person looking at this will understand that it is exactly the same thing as online wagering and on horse racing.”
 
Nevertheless, the company is apparently eyeing the potential of legalised internet gambling, with spokeswoman Courtney Yopp Norris noting that the significant Churchill Downs investment in the wagering platform used by Luckity and TwinSpires.com could be used in a future competitive online environment.