In the decade
since horse racing tracks added casino games, so-called racinos
grew faster than commercial and American Indian casinos, a study
The annual casino industry report, published by the Analysis Group
in California, attributed the growth of racinos to their relative
infancy and lack of competition in three of the six states that
licensed casino gambling at racetracks last year.
While much more money was wagered at Indian and Las Vegas-style
casinos, racino revenues rose nearly 52 percent from 1994 through
2003, outpacing other forms of casino gambling.
Overall, $2.3billion was gambled at racinos last year, up 8 percent
from 2002. Revenues at commercial casinos exceeded $26billion
last year, growing by just over 1 percent.
"Commercial gaming is much more mature, more widespread and
has much bigger numbers," said Doug Reed, director of the
University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program, adding: "It's
going to be hard for them to have the same rapid ramp-up"
Rhode Island pioneered the first racino in 1993, followed by West
Virginia in 1994. Iowa, Delaware, New Mexico and Louisiana also
had legalized racino gambling last year.
Bills to expand gambling at Kentucky racetracks have died
in the General Assembly the past three years, and Louisville's
Churchill Downs Inc. is eyeing Louisiana as its first venue
for alternative gambling. The racetrack operator is expected
to bid for Fair
Grounds Race Course in New Orleans at a bankruptcy auction
With racino revenues up more than 47 percent to nearly $169million
last year, Louisiana posted the highest one-year gain among the
states with racinos last year.
The study also highlights the strength of the $4.2billion
American Indian casino industry in California. Churchill Downs,
which owns Hollywood
Park near Los Angeles, and other racetrack operators want
to break into the casino market by putting the issue before
the state's voters in November.
If approved, the state would require tribes to pay 25 percent
of wagering revenues to a state fund or open the door to increased
If the tribes didn't comply, California would allow the addition
of 30,000 slot machines at five tracks - including Hollywood Park
- and 11 other sites.
Churchill Downs also is working with a developer to secure
Pennsylvania's final thoroughbred license for a proposed Pittsburgh
track and would become an investor in any company operating
alternative gambling. Gov. Ed Rendell signed a slots bill into
law this month.