Louisiana Downs Gets OK for Slot Machines

Louisiana Downs has received permission to install more than 1,700 slot machines as part of an $86-million project scheduled for completion early next year. The Louisiana Gaming Control Board gave the go-ahead during a meeting Monday in Baton Rouge.

Louisiana Downs, located in Bossier City in the northwest corner of the state, received legislative approval for slots in 1999 but, as has been the case with other racetracks in the state, the process has been rather slow. The Shreveport Times reported that regulators wanted assurances that Edward DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the track and partner in a failed riverboat casino deal, had no stake in the facility.

Last year, Louisiana Downs increased purses (a daily average of $175,000) in anticipation of revenue from slots, but apparently will have to go through another season without them. Eventually, purses are expected to hit at least $250,000 a day.

Racetrack slots are taxed at 18.5%, or 82 cents per dollar of gross revenue. Horsemen will receive the other 18 cents.

Delta Downs in Vinton began construction on its slots casino last year, but continues to wait for regulatory approval. Evangeline Downs, located near Lafayette, has plans to move to a neighboring parish so it can install slot machines. Racing will be held at its current location this year.