Louisville headquartered Churchill Downs is nearing a deal to secure a controlling interest in Illinois’ Rivers Casino Des Plaines, reports Chicago’s Daily Herald.

Intending to acquire a 50.1 per cent stake of Midwest Gaming, the property’s owner, for a fee of at least $326m, it’s the potential introduction of sports betting, and expanding beyond its current Arlington International Racecourse interest within the state, which are thought to be the main drivers of the agreement.

According to the publication Illinois Gaming Board is undergoing routine approval processes regarding the purchase, looking into a variety of issues, including the company’s financial situation and conducting criminal background checks on its executives, to ensure Churchill Downs meets state requirements.

A vote on the deal could commence this week, with a deal for Rivers, which houses 983 slot machines and 58 table games, expected to close in the first half of the year.

Greg Carlin, CEO of Midwest Gaming and its corporate parent Rush Street Gaming, said in a statement to the Daily Herald: “We are thrilled to have Churchill Downs become our partner in Des Plaines, because they share our vision for the future of Rivers Casino and our commitment to our team members, community and guests.

“They have a tremendous record of success and innovation. With their representation on our board of managers, we’re confident Rivers will remain one of the most successful casino destinations in North Americam and one of the best places to work in Illinois.”

Incoming Illinois governor J B Pritzker has raised hopes of sports betting being legalised within the Prairie State, after revealing his backing of the activity.

Under the proposed legislation a sports betting licence would cost $10m, with a $5,000 renewal fee, and be taxed at a rate of 20 per cent of gross gaming revenue.

It was further detailed that expectations place sports wagering as grossing in the region of $384m and $680m per annum, which in turn would bring in between $77m and $136m in tax revenue.