Peninsula Gaming Eyeing Full Ownership of Evangeline Downs

Peninsula Gaming, an Iowa riverboat operator, may soon be the sold owner of Evangeline Downs racetrack in Southern Louisiana.

William Trotter has informed state regulators that he is negotiating to sell his half interest in the Lafayette track, according to The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge.

"We have been made aware of the negotiations on a sale of his interest," Sgt. Troy Leonard, public information officer of the Louisiana State Police casino gaming division told the paper.

The racetrack would neither confirm nor deny that negotiations were ongoing.

Peninsula Gaming bought 50% of the track from B.I. Moody, along with a half interest in two promissory notes, for $15 million, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission records. The deal was closed in February.

Evangeline Downs intends to relocate to St. Landry Parish where voters said they would welcome the operation of 1,525 slot machines alongside pari-mutuel racing. Video poker was rejected by voters in Lafayette Parish in 1996 and the track has been without any form of alternative gaming since 1999. Peninsula Gaming estimates it will cost about $90 million to build the track, a dirt and turf course, and facilities for the slot machines.

The state now has Evangeline Downs' full application to operate in St. Landry Parish and has started its review. Evangeline Downs is one of three racetracks in the state with permission to run slot machines. Delta Downs is already running its casino and Louisiana Downs is still working on its renovation plans.

If the move is completed and Evangeline Downs is rebuilt, the slot machines are expected to contribute more than $200,000 a day to purses.