Bossier voters to decide on allowing off-track betting

1111

Bossier Parish voters will get the opportunity to determine whether or not betting on horse racing events will be allowed at off-track wagering facilities in the parish.

Police Jury members voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt a resolution calling for a special election sometime in the future to determine the issue after hearing officials at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs discuss the need for additional revenues.

Parish Attorney Patrick Jackson indicated the police jury would give Harrah’s Louisiana Downs officials time to complete their plans for the issue before setting an election date. He indicated that could be sometime in the Spring of 2020.

“As we’ve had increased competition our revenues have declined over the past several years,” explained Harrah’s Louisiana Downs General Manager Mike Rich. “We’re looking for ways to make us more attractive…to increase purses for horsemen and keep them coming here.”

Rich said his company hopes to have locations from the southern to extreme northern portions of the parish. Part of the plan would be to find existing buildings that are not being utilized to their fullest and create a more viable business atmosphere. 

If the proposition passes, video poker machines will be permitted in OTB locations, creating another revenue stream. A breakdown of revenues shows about 50 percent of wagers going to the purses along with about 15 percent of the slot revenue from Harrah’s casino. Video poker proceeds from OTB locations would put 15 percent toward purses. 

Rich estimated each OTB location would generate about seven figures worth of revenue.

“We’re talking about very nice facilities complete with food offerings and a pleasant atmosphere,” he said.