02/01/2002 1:00AM

Hoosier a step closer to slots


The Indiana Senate passed a bill Thursday that would legalize video gambling machines at state racetracks, including Hoosier Park, the Anderson racetrack owned in part by Churchill Downs.

The bill will be sent to the house on Wednesday, where lawmakers will have to add tax and revenue provisions before voting. Under the Indiana constitution, the house must determine the financial impact of all legislation, while the senate is responsible for policy language.

Rick Moore, the general manager of Hoosier, said that senate approval was a good sign for the bill's supporters. The senate has historically been anti-gambling, Moore said, while the house has tended to support expanded gambling measures.

The bill would also allow the video gambling machines at a racetrack that is under construction near Shelbyville.

Moore said Hoosier has not yet completed revenue projections for the machines, which would be electronic versions of slot machines. Hoosier would likely build a new facility at the track to house the machines, Moore said.

Thumbs down for VLT's at Rock

New Hampshire legislators rejected a bill Thursday night that would have legalized video lottery terminals at Rockingham Park.

The lopsided vote, 217-130, underlined Rockingham's failure to gather broad support for the bill. In addition to 1,200 VLT's at Rockingham, the legislation would have allowed three greyhound tracks in the state to operate 900 VLT's each.

Ed Callahan, the general manager of Rockingham, said Friday that the racetrack's survival depends on generating additional forms of revenue. Callahan would not comment on whether or not the track is currently profitable.

"I have serious concerns for the future," Callahan said. "It will take me a little time to put together a recommendation for the owners, but I'm going to have to sit down with the accountants, and we'll try to project the future. I believe we will get through this year, but after that there are no guarantees."

Rockingham is owned by a general partnership that includes Max Hugel, Joseph Carney Jr., Dr. Thomas Carney, and Ed Keelan.

Rockingham has tried unsuccessfully to push for expanded gambling for five years. The state's current governor, Jeanne Shaheen, has said she supports racetrack gambling as a way of generating funds for education. Shaheen will leave office later this year.