The slots era for Indiana horse racing officially began June 2 when Hoosier Park Racing & Casino opened its doors to the public.
The 92,000-square-foot Las Vegas-style casino, which has 2,000 state-of-the art slot machines, is expected to generate $200 million for Indiana’s racing industry over the next five years. Local legislators, business leaders, and dignitaries participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony before patrons had their first opportunity to play the slots.
“Welcome to our ‘Field of Dreams,’ ” said Centaur chairman and chief executive officer Rod Ratcliff, referring to the fact that the Hoosier Park site was once farmland. “It has been a long and rewarding journey to arrive at this point.”
Hoosier Park, owned by Centaur, seamlessly combines racing and gaming. Casino patrons will be able to wager on races, and can view them via windows facing the stretch. They also have easy access to the track’s apron.
Upscale dining and entertainment also highlights the casino and renovated grandstand, which cost in excess of $100 million to complete. The facility offers nine restaurants and bars spread throughout both areas, which are connected via escalator.
“We truly made a commitment to integrate our facility; to provide a first-class gaming, racing, dining, and entertainment facility,” said Jim Brown, general manager of gaming for Hoosier Park. “We’re in the process of setting the bar for products and services at Indiana’s gaming facilities.”
Hoosier Park officials said slots are projected to generate $400 million in gaming tax revenue in the next five years. At the local level, $200 million in salaries, tips, and benefits will be generated, with another $40 million in local tax revenue. The city of Anderson, home to the track, is expected to get about $18 million. The casino created nearly 600 new jobs, many of them filled by the Anderson workforce.
Rick Moore, general manager of racing at Hoosier Park, said the casino will establish Anderson as a destination. He said he is excited about what the change will mean to the track’s racing program. Moore has served in a management capacity at the Anderson facility since 1994, helping guide it through both lean and prosperous years.
“We opened here Sept. 1, 1994--what a transformation to today,” Moore said. “We’ve seen a lot of great things happen. We’ve watched the $400,000 Indiana Oaks (gr. II) and $500,000 Indiana Derby (gr. II) grow. What I want to see soon is a $1-million Indiana Derby.”
Hoosier Park currently offers live harness racing. Its Thoroughbred meet begins in late August.