Report: Second Indiana OTB Parlor Wouldn't Boost Handle

by James Platz

Indiana Downs' quest to obtain permission to operate a Marion County satellite wagering facility may have encountered it first roadblock.

The racetrack had petitioned the Indiana Horse Racing Commission to rehear the conditions placed its permit. IHRC executive director Joe Gorajec released his staff report June 27 and concluded an additional off-track betting facility in Indianapolis "will result in little growth in overall handle."

The Indiana Downs permit has three conditions. The condition in question states alternative forms of gaming must be passed by lawmakers in order for the to gain permission to operate an Indianapolis OTB parlor.

Indiana Downs officials contend the central Indiana market cannot only support a second satellite wagering facility, but total handle will grow. Officials at Hoosier Park, which operates a parlor in Indianapolis, argue a second facility may increase total handle slightly, but at the expense of its parlor.

In his seven-page staff report Gorajec wrote: "The addition of a third facility (Indiana Downs) into the central Indiana market has increased wagering by only 3.1%. At the same time, the Shelby County track has contributed to a diminution in wagering business at Trackside Indianapolis, which is down 12.2% in total wagering and 23.9% in daily average wagering. Hoosier Park has experienced a decline of 12.1% (live wagering) and 24.4% (simulcast wagering) when compared to its 2002 performance."

In statistics submitted to the racing commission, Trackside Indianapolis averaged $213,896 in daily handle from January to May in 2002. During the same period this year, the average fell to $162,703. The same time frame at Hoosier Park yielded a decline from an average of $88,888 to $67,225.

Indiana Downs acknowledged Hoosier Park and Trackside Indianapolis would be impacted by a second Marion County facility, but it said the benefits to the industry far outweigh the loss.

The commission will meet August 20 to decide the fate of Indiana Downs' request.