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Turfway Park expanding with slots

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Dec 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-01 16:46:10-05

FLORENCE, Ky. -- Turfway Park is planning an expansion to house up to 250 new slot machines that would take advantage of a 2014 Kentucky Supreme Court ruling that allows slots-style betting based on historical horse-race results.

The move would bring a seventh casino competitor to an already crowded gambling market in Cincinnati.

Under a proposal approved by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Tuesday, Turfway Park LLC plans to hire up to 35 new employees for the 10,000-square-foot expansion on the first floor of the Florence race track.

“The introduction of historical race wagering will enable Turfway to provide competitive purse structures and provide amenities for our patrons, which will strengthen the horse racing industry in Kentucky,” the company said in its proposal.

Slots-style betting parlors are already in place at three Kentucky horse racing tracks: Red Mile, Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park.

Turfway said the new wagering machines would be managed by Rock Gaming, the Detroit-based owner of the Horseshoe Cincinnati casino Downtown.

A spokesman for the Racing Commission said it will take several months to get the new machines up and running at Turfway. Once a facility is built to house the slot machines, they'll have to be inspected by state officials before they can be used by gamblers.

"We do not have a timeline at this point," said Turfway Park General Manager Daniel "Chip" Bach. Rock Gaming has been exploring the idea for several months and is now talking to potential contractors about building an operating the facility. Bach said a spring-time opening is "entirely possible," the company hasn't established definitive plans.

Cincinnati's gaming industry has struggled with six rivals that battle for share in a market that's growing slowly. If Bach is worried about being the 7th rival in a crowded market, he's not showing it.

We view these machines as a unique offering in the market," he said.