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Churchill Project: "A Tremendous Announcement for Newport"

Last week's news that Churchill Downs is planning a $38.4 million gaming facility in Newport was met with jubilation by city leaders.

In a story first reported by Fort Thomas Matters, it was revealed that the Newport Plaza Shopping Center site will provide roughly 70 full-time jobs.

It is scheduled to open late this year.

“This is a tremendous announcement for the City of Newport,” said City Manager Tom Fromme. “We are grateful that Churchill Downs – one of the most revered names in the horse racing and gaming industries – will develop an attraction that will create jobs and investment and bring visitors and excitement to the city. There’s really no other way to put it – this is big.”

The Newport facility will be developed across nearly 50,000-square-feet and will include:

  • A 17,000-sqare-foot gaming floor that will feature 500 Historical Racing Machines, or HRM’s, which use the outcomes of past horse races to provide an experience like slot machines.
  • A horse racing simulcast area including a separate VIP room.
  • A bar.

The Newport facility is being referred to as The Turfway Extension. Churchill purchased Turfway Park in Florence last year and has been seeking additional space in Northern Kentucky for a second gaming facility.

"We have received the required approvals to build a simulcast and historical racing facility in Newport, Ky., under what is referred to as an extension of the racing license associated with our Turfway Park facility in nearby Florence, Ky.," Churchill CEO Bill Carstanjen told financial analysts in an April 30 first quarter earnings call. "This is analogous to our Derby City Gaming property located close to and associated with Churchill Downs racetrack."

Carstanjen said the Newport facility will help generate larger purses for live racing at Kentucky racetracks, attract better horses, spur interest in pari-mutuel wagering in Kentucky and increase the value of horses as they transition into breeding.

“That’s all good for the Kentucky horse industry, as well as for the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” he said.

Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso pointed out that Newport “has a long and storied history when it comes to gaming and entertainment”.

“Along with a world class indoor/outdoor music venue now under construction, one of regions top attractions with the Newport Aquarium, theaters, and many other entertainment options, it just makes sense that the Churchill group is bringing gaming back to Newport” Mayor Peluso said. “It’s a bold move by Churchill to invest approximately $38 million dollars. This investment will be good for our community. It will create jobs and help the city financially.”

Mayor Peluso also believes that since Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear supports casino gambling that ultimately it will be legal across the state.

-Staff report