With Sale, Evangeline Downs Poised for Big Move

By Hector San Miguel

Peninsula Gaming of Delaware has acquired all of Evangeline Downs near Lafayette, La., and has purchased more than 500 acres for the track's new location and slot-machine parlor.

Documents filed by Peninsula with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission show the gaming company paid $15 million to William Trotter, who owned 50% of the track. Peninsula Gaming previously paid $15 million to B.I. Moody, who owned the other half of Evangeline Downs.

Trotter will be entitled to 0.5% of the revenues generated by slot machines for 10 years from the time they are in operation at a new site in neighboring St. Landry Parish.

The Louisiana Racing Commission is expected to approve the sale at a meeting in late September.

Peninsula Gaming paid $4 million for the land. It has two years from the day its gaming license was issued to relocate Evangeline Downs from Lafayette Parish to St. Landry Parish. The site is located near the intersection of Interstate 49 and U.S. 190, about 11 miles north of Evangeline Downs.

The slots parlor will have at least 1,525 slot machines. There will be a one-mile dirt track, with a turf course inside of it. Evangeline Downs offers only dirt racing.

St. Landry Parish voters approved horse racing and slot machines in 1997. The decision to move the track came after Lafayette Parish voted out video poker in 1996. The track had that revenue to help fund purses.

The casino company, the third with ties to a racetrack in the state, plans to spend at least $90 million on construction and development of the project. Boyd Gaming owns Delta Downs, and Harrah's Entertainment just announced a deal to buy a majority interest in Louisiana Downs.

"The company will manage the existing racetrack and, subject to receipt of required gaming approvals, is planning to design, construct, manage, and operate a new casino and contiguous racetrack facility with pari-mutuel wagering, slots, and (off-track betting) parlors in St. Landry Parish," Peninsula said in financial documents.

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board must approve Peninsula's gaming license before the slots parlor can open. Peninsula Gaming owns and operates the "Diamond Jo" riverboat casino in Dubuque, Iowa.

Delta Downs, the only Louisiana track with slots, generated $64.3 million in gross revenue from February through July of this year. Boyd Gaming reported in August that its gross revenue for the first six months of 2002 was up by nearly 10% because of slot machines at Delta Downs.