- Churchill Downs seems to have taken a big step towards installing slots at the Fair Grounds. Maybe. The state has given Churchill the go-ahead to install 500 slots, and up to 700 if and when Harrah's New Orleans Casino reaches $350 million in revenue in one year, which it is expected to do soon .
Of course, when it comes to slots, nothing is quite that easy, even in the Big Easy, as the plan still faces questions on the city level. Even though voters approved slots at the track in 2003, some City Council members want to see yet another referendum to amend the City Charter because the charter defines Harrah's New Orleans as having a land-based casino monopoly in Orleans Parish. But Attorney General Charles Foti issued an opinion disagreeing, and relying on the technicalities of the language involved.
The opinion….notes that state law doesn't use the word "casino" when describing slot machines at the racetracks, which means that "the Legislature intended that the conducting of slot machine gaming at an eligible racing facility such as the Fair Grounds is to be considered an enterprise separate and apart from 'casino' gaming." [Times Picayune]Thus the racino is actually not a casino and thus is not competitive to Harrah’s. Still, there’s a pending court action on the issue that Churchill wants to avoid, and the city still claims the right to determine the hours the slots can operate, with some Council members insisting it be limited to the track’s regular hours of operations. One member said
"We're very grateful to have Churchill Downs here. We think they're a first-class corporate citizen. However, if they don't abide by the neighborhood's request for quality of life in about five residential neighborhoods, we will have to curtail them," [Bloodhorse]Oooo, they’re going to curtail them? What kind of language is that?
The fight in Florida goes on over the language of the slots referendum approved in Broward, and whether or not it specified the Las Vegas Class III machines rather than the so-called “Bingo-type” Class II machines now in use at Indian casinos, and that Governor Bush is trying to foist upon the pari-mutuels. Philip Hogan, the chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, and an appointee of the governor’s brother, thinks the voters have spoken clearly. He says that the Indian casinos must be granted the Class III machines, even if the Governor somehow limits the tracks to Class II, because the Indians are entitled by federal law to whatever else is legal in the state, and that "It seems to me in November the public policy got established." [Palm Beach Post, via Albany Law School]
- Steven Haskin still likes the “weak link” in Zito’s armor (as well as virtually everyone else still in the picture; he's a man who covers his bases).
In the Arkansas Derby, Andromeda's Hero couldn't find room around the far turn, being stuck down on the rail, and could only pick up some of the pieces at the end to get third. However, as he did in the Lane's End Stakes, he galloped out like a wild horse and actually passed Afleet Alex on the turn. He's still not quite there, but he will love the 1 1/4 miles and there should be enough speed to help him mount some sort of serious challenge. [Bloodhorse]Actually, I remember reading Lauren Stitch raving about his gallop out after his Tampa Bay race too; as well as others raving about Sweet Catomine doing the same in the SA Oaks. The gallop-out system has not been paying off thus far..