Fair Grounds Slots Parlor Faces Another Hurdle

The New Orleans City Council is seeking a declaratory judgment on whether installation of slot machines at Fair Grounds would violate the city charter.

The council voted 7-0 to pursue the legal action, the New Orleans Times Picayune reported. It remains to be seen how long the issue will delay installation of up to 700 slots at the Churchill Downs Inc.-owned racetrack.

The newspaper reported that David Waguespack, an attorney for CDI, protested the council's decision. The attorney said the council should accept the mandate of a 2003 election in which Orleans Parish voters authorized slots at the track.

"Any type of legal activity could pose a delay," CDI spokesperson Julie Koenig Loignon told the Times Picayune. "This has already been passed by a local referendum. If we thought that there was going to be an issue requiring a declaratory judgment, we would have sought that judgment on our own."

At issue is whether a casino operated by Harrah's Entertainment is the only one permitted in New Orleans, and whether a slots operation at Fair Grounds would be considered a land-based casino.

CDI purchased Fair Grounds last year and recently concluded its first meet in New Orleans. The company hopes to get the slots parlor up and running in time for 2005-06 season.