Louisiana tracks nixed

Jul 9, 2002 10:27 AM

Short fields at some of America’s racetracks is the reason being used by officials in Louisiana in opposing a pair of license applications for the construction of two new racetracks.

Louis Roussel III, the former owner of the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and trainer of the classic race winner Risen Star, proposed building a quarter-horse track in Greenwood in northern Louisiana. The track plans call for the installation of between 1,400 and 1,500 slot machines on its premises.

Las Vegas developer Shawn Scott, who gained national fame when he sold Delta Downs in Vinton to Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD) for $130 million after purchasing the property for $10 million, petitioned to build a racetrack at Johnson Bayou, also with the intention of operating slot machines at the track. The property would have quick access to Houston, Tex.

Impacted would be existing racing operations at Louisiana Downs, whose slot machine operations won’t begin until later this year, and Delta Downs, which recently cut back its daily racing program from 10 races to eight races. This, said one racing official, showed that there already existed a horse shortage.

The State Racing Commission indicated it would go along with a recent request from the state legislature to hold off considering any new track application until a new study has been conducted to determine the net impact on the area’s economy.