Churchill Downs Moving Closer to Slot Advocacy

Churchill Downs executives are moving closer toward an advocacy of slot machines at Kentucky racetracks, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

During a meeting Monday with trainers and owners, track president Alex Waldrop said the racing industry has only two potential sources of new revenue: lower pari-mutuel taxes and alternative gaming. Waldrop said the taxes, particularly at the smaller tracks, are already low and further lowering "wouldn't address long-term growth."

He urged horsemen to consider the transformation of Woodbine Race Course near Toronto, Canada, where slot machines have allowed a 60% increase in purses since March 2000.

After the meeting, Waldrop told the Courier-Journal he was not advocating slot machines at the racetracks.

"The purpose of my comments was to say, 'Here's one of the solutions. Is this one you can agree to?' " he told the Louisville newspaper. "It wasn't saying to the horsemen, 'This is the solution.' "

Trainer Walter Bindner said he came away from the meeting with the clear impression that Churchill Downs wanted to run slot machines.

"It's the only thing they asked about at the meeting with David Willmot," Binder told the Courier-Journal, referring to meeting last week between some Kentucky horsemen and the president of Woodbine Entertainment Group, which owns Woodbine racetrack. "We all know they want slots, and I don't blame them."

Bindner and other trainers are concerned about the affects of slot machines on live racing. They hope any legislation authorizing slots will include some innovative benefits for horsemen, such as pensions and health insurance.

"Let's approach this from a business sense and rebuild the industry from the bottom up," trainer Bob DeSensi told the Courier-Journal. "Why should this business stay the same way it's been for 150 years?"

To see the full story in the Courier-Journal click here.