Indy Downs Wins OK For OTB Parlor Near Churchill

Indiana Downs has won approval from the Clark County, Ind., Council to open a satellite wagering facility in Clarksville or Jeffersonville, both of which are located just across the Ohio River from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

The council took the action during a lengthy meeting May 12, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported. The Indiana Horse Racing Commission must give its blessing for the proposal to move forward.

Indiana Downs is located in Shelby County southeast of Indianapolis and less than an hour from Hoosier Park, of which Churchill Downs Inc. is majority owner. Indiana Downs operates a satellite wagering facility in Evansville, Ind., just across the border from the CDI-owned Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky.

The Courier-Journal reported representatives of Indiana Downs told the council the area is ideal for an off-track betting facility because of its large population and the regional interest in horse racing. Plans call for a restaurant and sports bar.

Indiana Downs officials said the facility would handle about $40 million a year and employ 70 full-time and 20 part-time people.

"We are convinced now more than ever that Clark County will be an excellent site for another satellite wagering facility," Gil Short, president of business development for Indiana Downs, said in a prepared statement released the week before the May 12 meeting. "There's a population of approximately 180,000 in this region and great interest in horse racing. And its proximity to Interstate-65 is of great importance to a business of this type."

Currently, the Louisville market is without noon-to-midnight simulcasting seven days a week. When Churchill Downs is open for live racing, all simulcasting is held at the facility on live racing days only, and evening signals aren't offered. When Trackside OTB is open, it operates at night only two or three times a week, and usually is dark at least one day a week.

Indiana Downs most likely would have its OTB parlor open every day and night throughout the year.

Churchill Downs, as part of its master plan, will build a simulcasting facility in its clubhouse as part of the second phase of the $121-million project. It will have all the amenities of an OTB parlor, Churchill president Steve Sexton said.