Delta Leads Way in Louisiana Racino Purses

by Hector San Miguel

Delta Downs Racetrack & Casino reigned as Louisiana's top moneymaking racino in the first six months of 2004, according to figures from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board. Overall, the state's three racinos generated more than $19.8 million for purses in the first six months of this year.

Delta Downs near the Texas border reported adjusted gross revenue of more than $65.9 million for the six-month period. The track started the year with 1,497 slot machines, but the number has decreased temporarily because of ongoing construction.

Delta Downs slots generated more than $9.8 million for purses from January through June. The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders' Association earned $1.3 million for breed development, while the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders' Association netted $659,572.

Recent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by Boyd Gaming, owner of Delta Downs, said the racetrack saw a decrease in net revenue for the six-month period from $71.1 million last year to $69.4 million this year.

In a recent second-quarter conference call with investment analysts, Boyd executives said bad weather and construction at Delta Downs caused the drop in revenue drop.

"Delta Downs had a double whammy of bad weather and construction disruption this quarter, including operating with fewer slot machines," said Ellis Landau, Boyd Gaming chief financial officer. "We remain confident that we will see better numbers as the casino construction winds down and we get back to normal operations. It will probably be fourth quarter before we see that."

The $50-million expansion project includes a new slots area, 200-room hotel, food court, entertainment lounge, and special events area.

Louisiana Downs, owned by Harrah's Entertainment, reported $37.8 million in adjusted gross revenue for the six months that ended June 30. The Bossier City racino opened its permanent slots parlor in May to increase its machine count from 900 to 1,400.

The slots have generated a total of more than $5.6 million for purses this year. Thoroughbred breed development earned $756,584, and Quarter Horse breed development $378,292.

Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino near Opelousas reported $28.3 million in adjusted gross revenue for first two quarters of the year. The racino, owned by Peninsula Gaming, has 1,627 slot machines.

The slots generated more than $4.2 million for purses through June, $566,941 for Thoroughbred breed development, and $283,470 for Quarter Horse breed development.