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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
The Fort Wayne off-track betting parlor has operated at 1820 W. Washington Center Road since 1996.

Betting parlor to move in ’14, get facelift

Owner to invest $2 million; more amenities on tap

– The Indiana Horse Racing Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved a new location and redesign of the off-track betting parlor located in Fort Wayne.

The betting parlor will move in mid-2014 to Lincoln Plaza shopping center in New Haven near a Kroger and BMV license branch, with more car and foot traffic.

It will be dubbed the Winner’s Circle Brewpub and OTB and include a pub area with a high-quality menu, event space and OTB seating. Smoking will be permitted.

Hoosier Park, the Anderson horse track that runs the off-track betting parlor and is owned by Centaur, will invest $2 million at the new site.

The Fort Wayne betting parlor has been operating at 1820 W. Washington Center Road since 1996. That land will be sold for construction of a new hotel.

The current OTB parlor was described as “an unprofitable, tired, worn facility in a poor location” that appears empty even when occasionally busy.

Commission members had only positive things to say about the plan, which calls for keeping the parlor’s 30 employees and possibly adding more in the future.

“Things have changed significantly in parimutuel wagering, and most facilities have really done little or nothing,” Commission Executive Director Joe Gorajec said. “Today we have an exceptional application. I think this is a win for everybody – the horsemen, management and patrons.”

The only concern he raised was that Hoosier Park’s future revenue projections of a 50 percent increase in two years may be overly aggressive.

Wagering at the Fort Wayne OTB has dropped from $11.7 million in 2008 to $7.7 million in 2012.

But Jim Brown, president and COO of Centaur Gaming, said wagering jumped since similar changes were made to the Indianapolis OTB parlor.

He said the model of the past – a betting window and a hamburger – isn’t enough now.

“We need a combination of dining, drinking, betting, having fun – leisure entertainment for adults,” Brown said.

The New Haven complex will have 200 seats, some in the OTB and some in the pub area with additional special-event space. Big-screen televisions also will ring the room, and Indiana craft beers will be featured.

Patrons will also now be allowed to bet from their table or seat using a tablet system.

“It’s our intention to create a new business model for an OTB that’s sustainable,” Brown said.

nkelly@jg.net

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