Evangeline Downs, Just Opened, Hikes Purses

Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino, which just opened April 7 for the first Thoroughbred meet at its new location in Opelousas, La., has raised purses 10% across the board effective April 29.

Evangeline moved from Carencro to Opelousas so it could install slot machines. The slots casino opened in December 2003, but live racing wasn't held at the new facility until this February, when a Quarter Horse meet was staged.

The increase raises daily average purses to $165,000, up almost 150% from the 2003 average. The purse increase will be in effect through closing day, Sept. 5.

"I am very proud of our team and their hard work and it is reflected in our numbers," Evangeline general manager Michael Howard said in a release. "Our casino business has been outstanding this year.  We took a conservative approach in February when we wrote our first condition book, but we are very comfortable with the 10% across-the-board increase. It is my expectation this trend will continue."

Slots play has continued to increase each month and is higher than projected. The track has about 1,600 devices.