Thursday, June 23, 2005Contact: Maurits Bruggink
Another racino approved in the U.S.

New Orleans approved to the operation of 700 slot machines at the Fair Grounds racetrack.

The introduction of slot machines was part of the rescue plan of Churchill Downs Inc., the company that bought the ailing race track last fall. "We are first and foremost a horse racing company," said Andrew Skehan, the company's chief operating officer, but he said the slots will be a necessary adjunct to the track's live racing operations.

The slots are only allowed to operate 16 hours a day, compared to the 24 hours allowed at other race tracks. The residents of the historic residential neighbourhood, in which the track is situated, were afraid of the potential negative effects with unlimited opening hours.

Today, there is a debate in various states about the licensing of "racinos", as they have proved to be a effective way in making race tracks economically viable. In New York, MGM Mirage will operate 4,500 video lottery terminals at the Aquaduct Racetrack, pending state regulatory approval. A part of the revenues from this activity will be used to increase the purses at the race tracks.

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