Issue 245
May 23 - May 29, 2005
Volume 5
page 1
 

This Issue

Gaming News

Evangeline Downs to be shut down for six weeks

The 15th and final riverboat casino allowed by law in Louisiana opens Thursday

Caesars to sell two Nova Scotia casinos

Gaming commission approves site for Cuba-themed casino

Harrah's to begin hotel construction 

Show Time Brad Garrett performs at Tropicana Casino and Resort.

Column Potpourri of new titles arrive for gamblers in May By Howard Schwartz..

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

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Evangeline Downs to be shut down for six weeks
As reported by the The Daily Advertiser

OPELOUSAS, Louisiana - There will be no live racing at Evangeline Downs for nearly six weeks.

Officials at the track will announce today plans to spend $1.5 million to overhaul the racing surface and have set a projected reopening date for the racetrack for June 30.

"It's conservatively the quickest amount of time we can get the surface up and operational, while giving the horses and trainers an opportunity to work the track," said Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Swain.

In the meantime, Swain said the casino will remain open.

The track surface has been under a microscope since it opened in February for a quarter horse meet, after moving to Opelousas from its original Carencro location. Six horses were injured in the first 10 days of that meet.

Some jockeys said there was a problem with the racing surface at the new track, but track officials maintained that poor conditioning of the horses had caused the injuries.

The issue came to a head on May 12 when three horses were injured after races, and two later had to be euthanized. Jockeys refused to race the final four races on that night's card, and racing has been suspended since.

"The issue at that time was unknown," Swain said. "They were stating that there were inconsistencies in the speed, and that they were concerned about some of the materials that were on the track."
EvD officials then decided to take the dirt off the track to locate the problem.

"What we found was that the base was solid, but it had variations in the levels, which contributed to our drainage issues, which forced the cancellation of racing on April 11," Swain said. "We also found that there were only portions, small portions, of that track that needed to be corrected."

The track has hired Dennis Moore, a world renowned track expert and track superintendent at Hollywood Park in California, as a consultant who will work with EvD Track Superintendent Ron Collier.

"Of course, we feel pressure to do this right, which is why we've got the best possible people in place to do it right," said Swain. "There's never going to be a question about my track ever again."

Along with the $1.5 million construction cost for the race course, the track will lose the revenue it would have produced in the projected 24 more racing dates it will miss.

"There are absolutely no winners in this," said Swain. "It will be a blow monetarily, and a huge loss for all horse racing fans."

Swain said the casino at Evangeline Downs will continue to operate.

"The suspension of racing will not effect the casino in any way," said Swain. "It will be business as usual for that part of it."

The track also will continue to offer off-track betting from tracks around the country until live racing resumes.
Area jockeys, trainers and breeders would now be forced to consider their options during the period of inactivity at Evangeline Downs.

Jay Adcock, whose filly Angelic Reason broke down in a race Thursday and had to be euthanized, said that the loss was a big blow to him financially.

"That was my stable so to speak," Adcock said. "I don't really race horses so to speak. I do have a lot of horses breeding, and if they're not running down there it puts a big cramp in my program.
Louisiana Downs in Shreveport and Delta Downs in Vinton are two racetracks area horse owners are likely to turn to, but at a cost.

"There's an added expense of hauling horses from the Lafayette area to Shreveport. It's not an added expense if the horse is stabled on the racetrack, but it costs to haul to Shreveport. There's gas, money and time and effort involved."

Evangeline Downs officials say that they have put a lot of effort into the racing business, and denied the perception that they have focused on the casino more.

"Purses were going downhill until the slots improved the quality," said Evangeline Downs Director of Racing Operations David Yount. "There's no question that the casino has helped, but there's also no question that we put horse racing first."

"Racing is the heart and soul of our body," said Swain. "This is a race track that just happens to have slots."
The race track is scheduled to meet at noon today, in Opelousas, with the Louisiana State Racing Commission to go over its plans, followed by a meeting with the Louisiana H.B.P.A. and the Jockey's Guild at 1 p.m., and an open forum for licensed personnel at 2 p.m.

"While I am disappointed that racing has been suspended, I am encouraged that Evangeline Downs has made a commitment to improve the condition of the track," said Louisiana H.B.P.A. President Sean Alfortish. "This will insure long-term stability for the horsemen and jockeys."
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The 15th and final riverboat casino allowed by law in Louisiana opens Thursday
As reported by 2theadvocate.com

LAKE CHARLES, Lousiana - The L'Auberge du Lac Hotel & Casino joins an already-competitive fray in southwestern Louisiana for the attention and wallets of casino players from nearby Texas. The Lake Charles market already has a pair of two-riverboat complexes run by Harrah's Entertainment Inc. and Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., and a slot-machine casino at the Delta Downs race track in Vinton.

In addition, the Coushatta Indian tribe has a popular land casino and hotel on its reservation in nearby Kinder.

L'Auberge has put the 30,000-square feet of gambling space allowed by state law on a single-level riverboat, the only one of its type in Louisiana and the largest single-level riverboat casino in the United States. It will have 60 table games and 1,600 slot machines.

The casino's 26-story hotel has 743 rooms, suites and private villas. The resort also includes 26,000 square feet of conference space, shops and an 18-hole golf course designed by well-known golf architect Tom Fazio.

The casino opens to the public at 10 p.m. Thursday.

L'Auberge will close a long chapter in modern legalized gambling in Louisiana -- the opening of all of the riverboat casinos allowed by law. The first opened in New Orleans in late 1993, more than two years after the Legislature approved riverboat gambling.

In April, according to state figures, the Lake Charles market took in $40.3 million of the $189.4 million lost by gamblers at state-licensed casinos. The Lake Charles figure has been steady for some time, seeing little overall growth.

Isle of Capri already has tried twice to move its Isle riverboat out of Lake Charles, but plans to shift the casino to Cameron Parish and Jefferson Parish failed. Last month, the boat won just barely $1 million, making it the lowest-grossing riverboat in the state, while Isle of Capri's sister boat, the Grand Palais, took in $13 million.

Pinnacle has two other riverboat casinos in Louisiana, the Boomtown in Bossier City and the Boomtown in the New Orleans suburb of Harvey

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