Fair Grounds and Harrah's Reach Slots Agreement

Fair Grounds has reached an agreement with the Harrah's New Orleans casino that will help pave the way for slot machines at the racetrack. Provided the legal hurdles are cleared, Fair Grounds could have an initial 300 slot machines by 2003 and up to 700 machines by 2005.

"It is not as many machines as at other jurisdictions, but it will allow us to continue to grow the business," said Bryan Krantz, president and general manager of Fair Grounds.

With Harrah's no longer in opposition, Krantz will pursue legislation this session that would set up a slot machine referendum in Orleans Parish. If voters give their blessing to slot machines at the Fair Grounds, then Krantz will go to the state gaming control board and request a license.

The earliest Fair Grounds could have slots is 2003, according to Krantz. The understanding reached with Harrah's New Orleans allows Fair Grounds to start with 300 machines and add 100 machines each year for the next two years. If at any point before 2005 Harrah's New Orleans revenue exceeds $350 million, then Fair Grounds is entitled to an additional 200 machines. Last year, the casino did $248 million.

Harrah's New Orleans is a 100,000 square-foot casino that opened next to the French Quarter in the fall of 1999. It is owned by JCC Holding Co. and Harrah's is a minority owner.