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Purses increase at Charles Town Races

January 10, 2001

Purses increase at Charles Town Races



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Purses at Charles Town Races are continuing to climb, a racing official said Tuesday.

The track's management and the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association have said that the top purse for each race would increase to $22,000.

Currently, the top purse is limited to $20,000, said Dick Watson, president of the horsemen's group.

The purse increase is an indicator of the overall success at the track since Penn National Gaming Inc. took over the oval in 1996, Watson said.

For the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2000, gamblers played $936 million in credits on slot machines at the track, which has helped to increase purses.

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Of the $936 million gambled, the track cleared $79 million, up from the $46 million generated the year before, acccording to West Virginia Lottery officials.Total purse distribution at the track is currently averaging about $115,000 a day, Watson said.

In 1995, before Penn National took over the track, total purse distribution averaged about $22,000 a day, Watson said.

At the time, horsemen complained that the low purses made it impossible for anyone to make a living at the track.

Penn National started a massive renovation at the track, which has included new barns, simulcast areas, a renovated grandstand and other areas.

Last November, the track opened the "OK Corral," which includes 500 new slot machines.

The track has permission to add up to 2,000 machines.

Purses have consistently risen since Penn National took over. They rose nine times in 1998, four times in 1999, and four times in 2000, Watson said.

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