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(Rick Hickman / American Press)

(Rick Hickman / American Press)

Boyd Gaming gains racetrack, casino

Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 9:17 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Boyd Gaming boosted its prominence in Louisiana’s gambling market with the addition of Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Amelia Belle Casino to its company portfolio.

Earlier this month, Boyd officials announced the completion of a $1.45 billion acquisition of Peninsula Gaming, which owned the two properties, along with Kansas Star Casino near Wichita, Kan.; Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, Iowa; and Diamond Jo Worth in Northwood, Iowa.

Boyd now operates 22 gambling properties in Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana and Mississippi. Boyd officials estimate that two-thirds of the company’s revenues will be generated in regional markets.

In Louisiana, the company’s properties include three casinos (Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino in Shreveport, Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner and Amelia Belle Casino in Amelia) and two racetracks (Delta Downs Racetrack and Casino and Hotel in Vinton and Evangeline Downs in Opelousas).

Boyd’s employee count is now an estimated 25,000 nationwide.

“This is a significant milestone for our company, and we are pleased to be able to expand our footprint into Iowa and Kansas, as well as add additional markets in Louisiana,” Boyd President and CEO Keith Smith said in a news release.

“Boyd Gaming and Peninsula share very similar cultures and business models, as both companies are known for delivering great customer service, operating efficiently and giving back to our communities.”

Horse racing observers in Louisiana are keeping close watch of Boyd’s takeover of Evangeline Downs since the company will own two of the state’s four racetracks.

Stanley Seelig, president of the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said both Boyd and Peninsula operated their racetracks professionally.

“But as far as the transition goes, I’m not sure what changes Boyd will make. Yes, we are anticipating everything to be seamless,” Seelig said.

“But Boyd is carrying quiet a bit of debt now. Anytime a corporation carries debt, they have to cut overhead. Those are the things I’m concerned about.”

The type of budget cuts Seelig is worried about would be the kind that lead to less maintenance on track barns and less investment on track surfaces. He said Boyd and the horsemen can both benefit since two tracks are owned by one company.

“There is more leverage when it comes to negotiating simulcast deals across the country,” he said.

Track owners and the horsemen share proceeds from simulcast contracts, and the horsemen use a certain percentage to finance racing purses.

“With Boyd owning Delta and Evangeline they have two products to sell and can package them to get rates up. At the end of the day, it makes more money for Boyd and the horsemen,“ Seelig said.

“I have been president of the organization for a year and a half. I have nothing bad to say about Delta Downs. Management there has always been responsive and willing to sit and talk to us about problems.”

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