08/21/2007 11:00PM

Churchill to reinstate signal to Indiana


Churchill Downs Inc. expected its signals to be restored in Indiana as early as Thursday after a brief blackout in the state because of a technicality triggered by an Indiana Horse Racing Commission ruling earlier in the week.

According to Julie Koenig, vice president of communications for the company, Churchill sent a letter to the commission late Wednesday explaining it intended to send the signals from Arlington Park outside Chicago and Calder in Miami to an offtrack betting location in Evansville, Ind., beginning Thursday. That decision was prompted by a Tuesday commission ruling that prohibited Churchill from sending its signals to any simulcast location in the state unless it reinstated the signals to the Evansville site.

Last week, Churchill pulled the signals from the Evansville OTB after failing to reach an agreement with Ellis Park that would have allowed the company to send the signals despite a clause in a contract with Ellis that prohibited Churchill from competing with Ellis within 75 miles of the track. Churchill sold Ellis Park, in Henderson, Ky., last year, and Evansville is just across the border.

According to Koenig, the non-compete clause in the sale agreement contained a provision nulifying the clause if the Indiana racing commission passed a rule prohibiting Churchill from sending its signal to any location in the state. Therefore, paradoxically, Churchill should be able to restore its signal to the Evansville OTB and, ultimately, all Indiana simulcast locations after the racing commission prohibited Churchill from sending its signal to OTB locations in the state.

Joe Gorajec, the executive director of the Indiana commission, could not be reached late Wednesday, but earlier in the day, he said the commission would lift its restriction if Churchill was able to send its signal to Evansville.

"The ban will last indefinitely unless and until all the parimutuel facilities in Indiana receive these signals," Gorajec said. "I'm hopeful the situation can be resolved in a timely fashion."