Judge Puts Fair Grounds Debt to Horsemen at $89M

A state district judge ruled March 22 that Fair Grounds owes horsemen almost $90 million in damages from the video-poker lawsuit that led to the track's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last August, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

In 1994, the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association sued Fair Grounds and three other tracks over the revenue. The lawsuit claimed the tracks illegally reduced purse supplements.

A district judge ruled in favor of the horsemen, but the First Circuit Court of Appeal overturned the ruling. Last spring, the Louisiana Supreme Court agreed with the horsemen the tracks used an illegal formula for about 10 years. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the district court for a determination of damages, which was made by Judge Jewel Welch.

The amount is $64,620,645, but with interest, it's $89,901,934. Fair Grounds is the only track involved, because Harrah's Louisiana Downs, Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino, and Delta Downs Racetrack & Casino reached settlements with the horsemen.

Fair Grounds president Bryan Krantz said the track disagrees with the judgment and would continue the appeals process, the Times-Picayune reported.

The bankruptcy case is moving closer to resolution. Fair Grounds must submit a reorganization plan to the bankruptcy court by March 29.