Three very different looking buildings are the pieces that make up the Evangeline Downs Racetrack, Evangeline Downs Casino, and Evangeline Downs Hotel. They are clustered just east of Opelousas, Louisiana , a city of about 25,000 that is located in south central Louisiana.
Evangeline Racetrack originally existed at Carencro, Louisiana, but was closed in 1986 due to financial problems. It reopened and racing resumed under new ownership in 1987 . When the voters disapproved of a move to becoming a video poker casino, the track began planning to move to Opelousas. Racing moved to the new track in 2005. It is a 7 furlong track that was rated #27 of 65 tracks in the United States by the Horseplayers Association of America.
The casino is a slot machine palace that is new and modern with the latest in penny slots and slot machines that consume dollars. It was opened in 2003. It is physically located to the west of the racetrack and south of the new hotel. Entering through the main entrance on the west side of the building leads directly into the slot machine area. The arrangement of the slot machines is in a circular system around a raised area in the center. That area is occupied by Zydeco’s, a 110 seat bar that is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. A walkway on the north side of the casino leads to the hotel while a branch of that walkway to the east leads past the Player’s Club..
Continuing down this hallway leads past the events center which in addition to name entertainment, hosts prize fights. Close to the Events Center entrance is a gift shop to the west and Mojo’s Bar to the east.
The hallway ends at the lower level of the racetrack grandstand where simulcast racing broadcast and wagering occurs all year. Schedules of simulcast racing are available online for the daily races. Live racing at Evangeline Downs is scheduled for thoroughbreds through the summer months and quarter horse racing normally occurs during the late fall and early winter. Specific dates can be found online at the track website.
Blackberry’s is the fine dining establishment but is open only on Wednesday through Saturday. It features a reasonably priced wine list where wines cost from $18 to just over $100 a bottle. Some of them can be purchased by the glass. 24/7 is the coffee shop for the casino and is open to the passerby. Most entrees are priced under $15 and there is usually a daily special. The buffet is the Cajun Buffet. Prices are higher In the buffet – dinner is above $15 and lunch is just under $15 – on the weekends. The food is good and has a cajun quality.
The hotel is a member of the Ascend Hotel Organization. It opened in November, 2010. The Ascend Hotels are a new addition to the Choice Hotel Group. In establishing, designing, building, and furnishing the hotel, great attention is paid to detail so that it is associated with the central Louisiana area. The hotel is new and sparkling and friendly as well. It is a 4 story hotel with some 30 rooms on each floor. Rate information is available on the above link.