No land-based racetracks in Maine will accept wagers on the Kentucky Derby this year. Online racebooks are still safe to use.

  • Mainers will not be seeing their annual Derby Day this year as Churchill Downs has banned betting on the Kentucky Derby at all of their locations in the state.
  • This move is undoubtedly due to the fact that Penn National Gaming was awarded the sole online horse race betting platform in the state in May while Churchill Downs is unable to offer that to patrons.

AUGUSTA, Maine – All Churchill Downs locations in the state of Maine have banned their facilities from accepting wagers on the 2020 Kentucky Derby which is set to take place on Saturday.

While this is an unusual time of year for the race to occur since it is traditionally done in May, the Coronavirus Pandemic led to its postponement this year.

But that’s not the only change that Mainers will see this year as it will be the first time in decades that they’ll be unable to place bets at their local tracks like the popular Scarborough Downs.

Maine is the only state in the nation with opened establishments that have said no to Kentucky Derby betting in 2020.

Why Are Churchill Downs Locations In Maine Saying No To The Derby?

It would appear that the denying of horse racing betting fans on the Kentucky Derby has less to do about the race itself and more to do with a “turf war” between Churchill Downs, Inc. (CDI) and Penn National Gaming.

The Hollywood Casino in Bangor uses Penn National Gaming as their online provider for their horse race betting platform, the only licensed business of its kind in the state that launched in May.

CDI is clearly displeased at the lack of opportunity to offer online horse race betting as well and this is their way of showing their displeasure to the people of Maine.

“Churchill Downs advocates for open access and would be happy to give horseracing fans of Maine the chance to bet on the Kentucky Derby if given the equal opportunity to do so,” said a spokesperson for the company.

This can be seen as a subtle reference to the unfair advantage that Penn National has over the industry in Maine.

A letter issued by Penn National Gaming on the issue calls what CDI is doing regarding the Kentucky Derby as nothing more than “sour grapes.”

“While we had hoped that this issue would be resolved, it has taken on new urgency because of this year’s unusual schedule whereby the Kentucky Derby will be held September 5. This race, of course, is hosted at CDI’s flagship facility, Churchill Downs,” said Christopher McErlean, Vice President of Racing for Penn National. “However, because of CDI’s conduct, Maine- and it’s horse racing betting patrons- will be denied all access to wagering on the Derby. CDI is going to shut Maine out of the Derby because it disagrees with the statute enacted by the duly elected legislature of this state, signed by the Governor, and enforced by the Gambling Control Unit, Maine – and its struggling horsemen-will be the only state shut out of the Derby.”

How Can A Mainer Still Wager On The Race?

All hope is not lost for Mainers looking to wager on the Kentucky Derby. While it’s sad they will not be able to have their annual Derby Day at the track, with the Coronavirus Pandemic, that was unlikely to take place the same way it has each year anyway.

People can hold their own events at home where they can dress up and watch the Kentucky Derby on television and still get in on the action of the race.

Online Kentucky Derby betting is still available within the state. Pari-mutuel wagering as well as fixed odds betting on the race are still accessible. Tiz the Law, winner of the 2020 Belmont Stakes, is the heavy favorite to win the Kentucky Derby this year.

The fun begins on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EST. and will be televised by the NBC network.

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