12/18/2002 12:00AM

Harrah's to complete track deal


Harrah's Entertainment, which in August signed a letter of intent to purchase controlling interest in Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., for $73 million, is scheduled to close on the track Friday.

The complex deal received approval from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board late Tuesday, while transfer of the track's parimutuel license was to come before the Louisiana Racing Commission for approval on Thursday.

Louisiana Downs, which has a license to install slot machines, will be a joint venture between Harrah's and the Downs Entertainment Group, a collection of Louisiana-based investors headed by Shreveport attorney Jim Davis.

Last year, Davis' group entered into an agreement to purchase Louisiana Downs from current owner John York, and then approached Harrah's about a partnership in June.

As part of the deal, the Downs Entertainment Group will get a small stake in an existing Shreveport riverboat owned by Harrah's. A new company will be formed linking the two properties, with 95 percent ownership in that company being held by Harrah's.

Harrah's, which owns 26 casino properties around the country, plans to make $84 million in improvements to Louisiana Downs.