07/22/2008 11:00PM

Woodlands shutting down


The Woodlands in Kansas City, Kan., will close its doors next month because the tax rate that has been established for its planned slots casino is too steep, according to the track's general manager, Jayme LaRocca.

The last day of greyhound racing and simulcast operations will be Aug. 23, and the Woodlands will not conduct its 26-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet that was to open Sept. 20.

The track announced the closing during a meeting with its 250 employees on Tuesday. Plans had been in place to construct a slots casino at the track this year after a referendum providing for the machines passed by a large margin in June 2007.

There would have been, however, a 40-percent tax on slot revenue at the Woodlands, with an additional 3 percent set aside for local taxes, 2 percent for a gambling addiction fund, and 1 percent for the state horse fair benefit. A total of 14 percent would have been tabbed for purses at the Woodlands.

"The tax was too high to make it profitable, for it to move forward," said LaRocca.

The tax rate is steep compared with some states. The tax on slots operations at Prairie Meadows, for example, is set at a maximum of 24 percent, according to the Iowa Racing Commission.

The Woodlands, which has separate facilities for dog and horse racing, has been operating at a financial loss for some time, in part because of competition from riverboats in Missouri. The track, which opened for dog racing in 1989 and horse racing in May 1990, first sought slots legislation in 1993.

LaRocca said that after the first of the year the Woodlands could seek an amendment to the current slots legislation, something that might enable the track to reopen.

"At this time, we're looking at all options," he said.

The Woodlands, which has a 25-year license, is the third major dog track to close in the state. The other horse racing venues in Kansas conduct short fair meets, at Anthony Downs and Eureka Downs.