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Indiana racino prospects seem likely

Sep 30, 2003 5:18 AM

So far, Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) has been unsuccessful in its efforts to get slot machine approval for its racetrack in Louisville, Ky. But the company may have more success with a track it owns in the neighboring state of Indiana.

A bill has been prepared for the 2004 session of the Indiana legislature that would allow slot machines at the state’s two racetracks, and at off-track betting parlors in Indianapolis. The bigger track is Hoosier Park in Anderson, owned by Churchill Downs and its minority partner Centaur, Inc.

Indiana Downs the other track is a privately-owned track in Shelbyville. It will not benefit from the OTB provision since its attempts to get approval for a betting parlor in Indianapolis was turned down by the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.

The slot proposal is being backed by the Indiana Horse Racing and Breeding Coalition. Political support is also emerging with House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Crawford saying he expected such a bill would do well in the House. He called the bill "economic stimulation."

The coalition indicated it hoped to have 10,000 slot machines in play when the legislation is approved but Crawford said the number probably would be closer to 4,500 machines He also said he would favor placing machines in a betting parlor in Fort Wayne, a facility operated by Hoosier Park.

Nothing was mentioned about the betting parlor Indiana Downs operates in Evansville. Last Friday, Indiana Downs received approval from the Indiana Horse Racing Commission for an OTB parlor in Clarksville, across the Ohio River from Churchill Downs and near the Caesars Indiana riverboat.

Officials of Indiana Downs believe the Clarksville location could be the strongest off-track site in the state.