Evangeline Holds Own, Prepares for Big Move

Edited Evangeline Downs release

Evangeline Downs reported a gain in total handle but expected decreases in on-track business given the fact live racing and its slot-machine operation weren't located at the same site during its 2004 meet that ended Sept. 6.

All-sources wagering at the Carencro, La., racetrack totaled $117,571,392, up 8.4% from $108,463,742 last year. On-track attendance was down 8.5% for the 92-day meet. Officials attributed the results to the opening of the slots casino and off-track betting parlor located about 15 minutes away in Opelousas.

On-track handle dropped 1.58%, with $9,429,942 wagered at Evangeline Downs and its OTB parlors in Opelousas, New Iberia, and Port Allen. The racing operation will move to the new facility in Opelousas in 2004, though revenue from slots was used to increase purses this year.

"Our average purses were $120,000 per day this year as compared with $65,000 per day last year," said David Yount, executive director of racing operations at Evangeline Downs. "Entries held more solidly for us this summer, especially in July and August, with an increase to 9.48 starters per race up from 9.27 in 2003. We were able to card better quality races, and this was well received by our extensive simulcast network.

"But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Next year, we will have the benefit of an entire off-season of accumulating purses, and that, coupled with the opening of our new facility, should really make for an incredible 2005 season."

Out-of-state wagering on the Evangeline product was up 9.36%. "We were very pleased with the support by our simulcast outlets throughout the country," said Sean Beirne, director of simulcasting and public relations. "The combination of our field sizes, higher purses, large wagering pools, and multiple exotic wagers gave our patrons many options with their wagering dollar and helped us gain access to sites that previously did not carry our product. We also were able to successfully fill more 2-year-old races this year, and that is something Evangeline Downs is known for nationally."