“No risk” agreement links EquiLottery, Charles Town

by | Feb 16, 2017 | Breaking, Business, Top Stories, West Virginia, WV Business

Racing at Charles Town. Photo by Coady Photography.

by Frank Vespe

They’re not playing the EquiLottery just yet in West Virginia. But this week, the state took a step in that direction.

Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and EquiLottery announced earlier this week an agreement that will allow EquiLottery to use the video feed of live races from Charles Town in return for the payment of a broadcast rights fee. That fee will be split evenly between the racetrack and the purse fund.

“It is a great honor to be working with such a well-regarded racing and gaming operation as Charles Town Races,” EquiLottery founder and CEO Brad Cummings said in a statement. “Their leadership team and their association with Penn National Gaming’s network of racetracks make this a perfect agreement to help us continue our early momentum.”

It is the first such agreement announced by EquiLottery, Cummings said in an interview. The company had its public unveiling in the summer of 2014.

The EquiLottery concept is simple and piggybacks on the existing system of state lotteries.  Players can buy tickets anywhere lottery tickets are sold, and each $2 ticket represents a three-number bet, as in more traditional lottery draw games. But rather than drawing the numbers by a machine blowing ping pong balls or other random device, EquiLottery winners are determined by the results of an actual horse race – one which players can watch online or via a mobile app.

According to EquiLottery’s website, top prizes will range from $300 to $1700, and every ticket will be redeemable for something from racetracks in participating states: free admission, programs, or food or beverages.

The $2 price of each ticket will be split, with half going to prizes.  The lottery itself will receive eighty cents per two-dollar ticket, and the remaining 20 cents will be split among EquiLottery and others with whom the company contracts, including racetracks and horsemen.

EquiLottery’s research indicates that in Kentucky, the addition of EquiLottery to the state lottery’s roster of games could lead to 300,000 new lottery players and total first-year sales of between $18 million and $54 million.

More than that, Cummings said, EquiLottery would “open the sport of horse racing to thousands of points of purchase.”

It’s that last point that interested Charles Town, said Vice President of Racing Operations Erich Zimny.

“If it can produce more interest in racing, that’s great,” he said. “We didn’t see it as cannibalizing racing handle. We didn’t see any risk to us.”

Of course, the company, and the purse account, will be happy to have whatever additional revenue the game produces. However, EquiLottery has not yet launched in any state, so that revenue may be a ways off, though Cummings hastens to note that “we certainly are moving in the right direction.”

Cummings said that his company believes that, in most states, the lottery system could add EquiLottery to its menu of offerings without enabling legislation.

That’s not the case in West Virginia, though, he said.  There, a state law forbids a product like EquiLottery mixing horse racing and the lottery.

Will the state law change?

“We have [no legislation] filed at this point,” Cummings said, without elaboration.