Evangeline Slots: $12M for Horsemen in 2004

by Hector San Miguel
Slot machines at the new Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La., pulled in nearly $72 million in gross revenue and generated more than $12 million for purses and breed development in their first year of operation, according to statistics from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

Evangeline Downs, owned by Peninsula Gaming, moved from Carencro, located about 20 minutes south of Opelousas. The slots casino opened Dec. 13, 2003. The first live race at the new facility is scheduled for Feb. 5, when a Quarter Horse meet begins.

The slots have generated more than $10.7 million (15% of adjusted gross revenue) in purse money. The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association received $1.4 million (2%), and the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders' Association earned $718,000 (1%).

Thoroughbred purses at Evangeline totaled $11.1 million in 2004, up $4.8 million from 2003, because of revenue from slots. The first Thoroughbred race at the new facility will be held April 7, when the customary spring/summer meet begins.

The final phase of the new Evangeline Downs was completed in late November, three months ahead of schedule. Horses began working on the racing surface in early January.

Peninsula Gaming bought the track in 2002. It later completed a land-acquisition package in the fall of 2002 and broke ground in February 2003. The final live race at the old facility was held in the fall of 2004.

The new Evangeline Downs was completed in two phases. The first phase began with the opening of the slots parlor and restaurants. The second phase included construction of a lighted one-mile dirt track and stables for 1,000 horses. The racetrack has grandstand and clubhouse seating for 1,450 patrons, and apron and patio space for an additional 3,000 patrons. Plans call for the addition of a turf course.