02/15/2007 12:00AM

Fair Grounds asks interim slots

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Fair Grounds Race Course and its parent company, Churchill Downs Inc., on Wednesday asked the city of New Orleans to allow the racetrack to operate a temporary casino at the track's on-site offtrack betting facility while it builds a permanent facility. If approval is granted by the city's Planning Commission and City Council, the temporary slots facility would begin operation in October.

The company had been planning to begin construction on a 30,000-square-foot facility for 700 slot machines in September 2005, but those plans were delayed by Hurricane Katrina.

Slots were approved for racetracks in Louisiana in 2001, and Delta Downs became the first track in the state to operate slots in 2002.

"With our repairs completed and this season's meet well under way," said Steve Sexton, executive vice president of Churchill Downs Inc., "we can now focus fully on plans to implement slot machine gaming at Fair Grounds."