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Luckii.com, the first online historic horse racing (HHR) site, has had its official launch in Oregon. Parent company ELS Gaming owns racetracks in Virginia and Arizona, so it brings real horse racing experience to the table. Luckii soft launched in the state earlier this year.
On the surface, what Luckii offers looks similar to the online slots you see at other sites. The difference is that Luckii’s outcomes are based on the results of historic horse races.
Players can use the site’s resources to study the form using handicapping data. Alternatively, they can choose to just start playing and simply spin the wheels. Stakes start at just $0.20 and even this minimum wager gives players the opportunity win jackpots.
HHR products are already available in several states, most notably Kentucky. These are all physical products, however, played on machines at racetracks and other locations. Luckii is the first time we’ve seen such products in an online format.
Whether online HHR proves a lasting success remains to be seen. Luckii is off to a decent start, however, with over $2 million in wagers in the two-month soft-launch period.
Luckii is an alternative to conventional iGaming, but it is part of the legal market. It is licensed by the Oregon Racing Commission as an Advanced Deposit Wagering platform. Some of its revenues go directly to support the Oregon horse racing industry.
Its move into legal online gaming began almost three years ago. In 2018 ELS partnered with Exacta Systems to create HHR games based on parimutuel rules. According to ELS Chairman Lawrence Lucas, the aim was:
“To provide added revenues for the racing industry and increase fan participation so that horse racing is back on the strong foundation it once was.”
The result of that work is “an alternative to traditional online gaming and a much-needed revenue source for the racing industry.” Lucas continued to say that “Oregon is just the first stop for Luckii, with agreements already in place to expand to other markets.”
Across the US, the horse racing industry has seen substantial decline. In Pennsylvania, the State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding explained:
“The system is broken, and needs to be fixed. This problem has persisted for years. There has been a 71 percent decline in wagers placed on live horse racing in the state [of Pennsylvania] since 2001. This means there has been less revenue for the oversight of the industry.”
Over in Illinois, the state also saw the problem and decided the online gaming could help. In November 2018, the Illinois Racing Board approved rules to allow HHR machines in the state. As with Oregon, legal online casinos in Illinois haven’t yet arrived, though it’s getting very close to legalizing them.
ELS sees itself as part of the solution to horse racing’s problems. It now has an option to buy Arizona Downs, a racetrack that has not hosted a race in a decade. The company has proposed a package to the legislature which includes $300 million in investment.
This wouldn’t be ELS’s first purchase and revitalization of a failing racetrack. It has previously done the same in Virginia. ELS bought the Colonial Downs racetrack and invested heavily. The project added over 4,200 jobs to the local economy and delivered $44 million in new tax revenues. The first six months of racetrack and OTB betting generated over $1 billion in handle.
That reboot included the installation of 3000 HHR terminals at Colonial Downs, with the approval of the Virginia Racing Commission. Luckii doesn’t yet operate online in that state, but it may be one of several that ELS says it is looking at expanding the product into.
The rollout of online gambling in US states has suffered because of disagreements between retail and online casinos. There is a fear of cannibalization, that online will take money away from brick and mortar establishments. The opposite has happened. There is a synergy between online and offline casinos that benefits both.
ELS has caught the zeitgeist and is moving forwards on both tracks. HHR forms an important part of its efforts at racetrack redevelopment, and moving the product online is a natural extension of that.