Friday, May 21, 1999

New owners check out Turfway

Governor's casino comments have their interest

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — Turfway Park's new owners were in town Thursday planning how the partnership will run the track for the rest of the year.

        Representatives of casino giant Harrah's, lottery company Dreamport and Keeneland spent a day and a half looking over the track's budget and making plans for both the rest of 1999 and next year, said Pete Weien, vice president of corporate development for Harrah's.

        “It's all kind of the aftermath of when you do a deal like this,” he said.

        The three companies bought Turfway in March for $37 million. Keeneland, the Lexington horse track and sales company, will manage the track for the partnership.

        The owners have not hired a president to replace Mark Simendinger, who left May 1. They are in the process of doing that, Mr. Weien said.

        As for the partnership's thoughts on Gov. Paul Patton's comments about bringing casinos to the commonwealth, Mr. Weien said they continue to read the governor's comments with interest.

        They have not, he said, contacted Mr. Patton to discuss anything.

        Though they have acknowledged they hope casino gambling will eventually be permitted in the state, they point out that they made the Turfway purchase with no certainty that state law will be changed.

        The governor is suggesting putting as many as 12 to 14 state-run casinos in hotels near convention centers.

        Mr. Patton thinks the casinos would bring more tourism to the state, and the money from them could be used to help a variety of things, including urban renewal projects and the horse racing industry.


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