The Kentucky Downs racetrack is just about set with the first round of an expansion project that its owners hope will give an economic boost at a crucial time.
The track in Franklin, in southern Kentucky, plans to open a 30,000-square-foot venue for patrons to play Historic Horse Racing games — essentially slot machines — in September, the Bowling Green Daily News reported Friday.
Kentucky Downs LLC, a partnership involving Nevada investors Ron Winchell and Marc Falcone among others, bought the track in 2019. Its gaming offerings make up the bulk of the track’s revenue.
Like gaming facilities around the country, Kentucky Downs was closed for a few months in late spring and early summer because of the coronavirus pandemic. The HHR gaming was reopened on June 10; it had been closed since March 16, according to a company release.
The gaming area is operating at 33 percent capacity and guests must have their temperature taken before they can enter to comply with safety measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19. At this time, a little more than 500 Historic Horse Racing terminals are available.
The expansion project will include the Mint Gaming Hall, which will add more than 600 HHR machines, according to the Bowling Green Daily News report. The story also said that, when this expansion is finished, Kentucky Downs will have about 1,100 HHR games in a 110,000-square-foot building that will have new dining choices.
CHECK OUT: All About Kentucky Gaming
“This (expansion) has been going on for a little while,” Kentucky Downs senior vice president and general manager Ted Nicholson told the newspaper. “We made it through the craziness of COVID-19 and can now see light at the end of the tunnel. It will be amazing to have a facility with added space for gaming and restaurants. To top it all off, we eventually want to build a hotel.”
Kentucky Downs, just north of the Tennessee border and about 40 miles north of Nashville, will hold its live horse racing meet starting Sept. 7. The 1 and 5/16-mile turf track hosts just six race dates per year; the 2020 program will end Sept. 16. But the short meet awards more than $10 million, according to the track’s website. At more than $2 million a day in purses, Kentucky Downs offers the highest average in the nation.