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Title: Power outage shuts down slot machines on Derby day

Source: Charleston Gazette Publication date: 2000-05-09

A power outage shut down slot machines at state racetracks on one of the biggest gambling days of the year. At least 1,100 machines spread among four gambling centers went blank Saturday night after the outage at Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center. "It's just about our worst nightmare," Ron Radford, Tri-State's director of gaming, said Monday.

Because many of the machines feed through a main computer at the Tri-State track, the outage's effects rippled to Charles Town Races, Wheeling Downs and Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort in Chester.

All four tracks were busy Saturday with crowds gathered to watch the Kentucky Derby.

Although simulcast derby betting was unaffected, other simulcasts could not be shown. Greyhound races were canceled or delayed at Tri- State and Wheeling Downs.

The problems began after power was knocked out when a car struck a utility pole on a nearby road. A power surge shut down the computer used by the slot machine vendor, Autotote, which has machines throughout the state. The track's backup generator also was knocked out.

At Tri-State, 250 slot machines were shut down immediately and 330 others continued operating until their backup batteries ran down.

Some machines continued to work and the lights stayed on, but the air conditioning quit, resulting in a hot, smoky atmosphere.

"Probably it would've just been better if we'd had a total power failure," Radford said.

The power surge temporarily knocked out 100 machines each at Charles Town Races and Mountaineer Park and 330 machines at Wheeling Downs.

Saturday's race schedule at Nitro was postponed because the power outage shut down the track's two rabbit decoys used to lure racing greyhounds.


-- (, May 10, 2000

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