Thursday, September 25, 2003

Hoosiers might bet in L'ville shadow


Gambling parlor may open across river

The Associated Press

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. - A former drugstore in southern Indiana could give Churchill Downs some new competition if state officials approve the building's conversion to an off-track betting parlor.

The Indiana Horse Racing Commission is expected to vote Friday on Indiana Downs' request for a betting parlor in Clarksville, across the Ohio River from Churchill Downs' hometown of Louisville.

The Clarksville parlor would compete head-to-head with Trackside, a similar Churchill Downs operation in Louisville. But John Long, chief operating officer for the Louisville track, said his company has no plans to contest the Indiana parlor.

Trackside is the only OTB site in metropolitan Louisville.

Officials at Indiana Downs have said they think Clark County could be the strongest off-track site in the state because of the area's large population and interest in horse racing.

Jon Schuster, general manager of the Shelbyville track, said there should be more than enough room for two off-track parlors serving Louisville.

But Long said Kentucky's racing industry already is feeling increased competition from Indiana casinos on the Ohio River, and another betting parlor will add to it.

"There's enough competition in the marketplace already. This just adds another level of competition, which makes it more difficult for everybody," he said.

Indiana Downs plans to spend $1.2 million to renovate the old Drug Emporium, turning the vacant 22,500-square-foot building into a betting parlor and restaurant.

The operation would provide 70 jobs and enough space for 450 to 500 bettors at a time. If the state commission approves, construction could begin as soon as next week, and the parlor could open by the end of the year.

Clark County would receive 0.25 percent, or about $75,000, of the estimated yearly handle of $30 million. The County Council already has approved the plan.




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