11/02/2002 12:00AM

Playfair license approved

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington Horse Racing Commission issued an order late Friday afternoon which approves the application of Las Vegas businessman Eric Nelson for a license to operate Playfair Race Course in Spokane. Playfair has been closed since July 2001.

The order, which was signed by three of the four commissioners present at hearings held in Spokane on Oct. 22 and 23, will take effect when several conditions are met. Chief among those conditions are the signing of a contract with Eastern Washington horsemen and the completion of arrangements to repay the commission for certain expenses incurred in regulating Playfair. Nelson's organization, Cleopatra Downs LCC, must also make certain repairs to the facility and submit a revised security plan.

The order states that Playfair may begin offering simulcast wagering after it is granted at least 40 days of racing for 2003. The track is expected to ask for a 40-day 2003 season when the commission meets in December to allocate dates.

Commissioner Ralph Vacca submitted a dissenting opinion. Vacca wrote that concerns regarding the absence of guarantees for the payment of debts, should the venture fail, made it impossible for him to sign the order.