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In yet another story of the struggle to rebuild after the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina, the AP reports that the Louisiana Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans will open its second season of live racing since the flood on Thanksgiving Day, only this time with an assist tracks across America are receiving.
Up to 245 slot machines have been installed at the venerable track, and are pumping in money to help raise purses and bring this historic site back from the dead. The machines began running in September, and the income after the first full month of operation was $1.3 million. Track officials expect this number to more than double during the 81 day live racing season.
Over the next year, the facility will add a permanent room holding over 700 machines.
The economic and historic value of the track is huge. According to a study done by the University of New Orleans, the Fair Grounds has a yearly impact of over $350 million on the New Orleans economy, and more than 1500 jobs are directly provided by the track.
The Fair Grounds dates back to 1852 and is the third-oldest racing operation currently in the United States. George Custer, Pat Garrett, who shot Billy the Kid, and Jesse James’ brother Frank are among the famous who have watched their horses run at the track. Jack Dempsey and gambling legend Diamond Jim Brady have attended events.
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and The Louisiana Derby are major annual events at the Fair Grounds.
With its broad influence on the local economy and its amazing past, one can only hope the Fair Grounds finds an able assist from its slots, helping it back to its former prominence.