Make Room!

by Ed Meyer

posted on May 29, 2009 in General Discussion, News | No Comments >>

Churchill Downs says it needs slot machines to be able to compete with the racetracks in other states, which already have casino gambling.

Getting the General Assembly to approve slot machines is the first challenge.

But if Churchill Downs can get slots, where would they put them?

How many one armed bandits does it take to raise $121 million?  That’s what Churchill Downs spent on its expansion a few years ago – long rumored to be the future home for slots.

“Actually the expansion was for racing.  The $121 million spent here was to make sure we had the best facility in the world come Oaks and Derby day,” says Kevin Flanery of Churchill Downs Inc.

According to Flanery, there was never any plan to use the expansion for slot machines or casino gaming.

“Our plan is to build an entirely new facility on the property if we’re fortunate enough to be allowed to have slots on this facility property,” he says.

Flanery says none of the current clubhouse would even be used for auxiliary gaming and that a temporary casino could be up and running within twelve months.

“A lot depends on what the legislation allows us to do.  But it will be on this site.  It will be on the facility site as has been anticipated by the legislation and obviously you can look around and see where the empty spots are, but a lot of it will be what kind of design they can come up with.”

So we know slot machines won’t come to the infield, for that matter to millionaires’ row, or even to the jockey club.

But the bigger question remains, will slots come to Churchill Downs at all?

Governor Steve Beshear is expected to decide by the end of this week whether to include slots at racetracks in a special session.