10/23/2005 11:00PM

Fair Grounds reopens five OTB's


Fair Grounds in New Orleans will reopen five of its offtrack betting locations on Wednesday, two months after Hurricane Katrina inflicted significant damage on New Orleans, surrounding areas in southeastern Louisiana, and much of the Gulf Coast in Mississippi and Alabama.

The openings afford the area the simulcast of Saturday's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park.

The Finish-Line offtrack locations that will open are in the Louisiana cities of Covington, Elmwood, Houma, LaPlace, and Thibodaux. There is also video poker available at all of the sites except Covington. Each site is scheduled to open at 8 a.m. daily, except Covington, where gates will open at 11 a.m. Unlike the other locations, Covington will not operate on Tuesdays.

The offtrack sites are the first to open since Katrina. Because of the storm, Fair Grounds, owned by Churchill Downs Inc., will be unable to conduct its upcoming meet in New Orleans. Instead, the track will operate an abbreviated, 37-date meet at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., from Nov. 19 through Jan. 22.