02/05/2004 12:00AM

Slots pass Indiana House

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The Indiana House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would authorize a total of 5,000 slot machines at the state's two racetracks and at two offtrack betting parlors.

The bill passed the House by a 53-39 vote, and was sent to the Senate, where its passage is uncertain. The Republican leadership of the Senate has expressed opposition in the past to expanded gambling bills.

"We're hopeful it will get assigned to a committee and get a hearing," said Rick Moore, the general manager of Hoosier Park. "Hopefully we'll know something by the end of next week."

The bill would allow both Hoosier Park, a majority of which is owned by Churchill Downs Inc., and Indiana Downs to operate 1,000 of the machines, which are electronic versions of a lottery game called pull-tabs. Another 1,500 machines would be allowed each at offtrack betting parlors in Indianapolis and in Ft. Wayne, near the border with Illinois. The two OTB parlors would be co-owned by Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs.