Amendment To Virginia Legislation Would Allow OTBs To Reopen

by | 04.02.2015 | 10:44am

The following note was sent to members of the Virginia Equine Alliance on Wednesday, outlining a proposed amendment to horse racing legislation which has passed the commonwealth's Senate and General Assembly:


As we reported a few weeks ago, the legislation supported by the Virginia Equine Alliance passed the House and Senate. The legislation is now with the Governor's office and an Amendment has been filed by the Governor to ensure that the off track wagering sites can re-open in the event that Colonial Downs does not apply for a license. We will be working with our friends in the General Assembly to ensure passage of the Amendment, yet if either body does not approve the Amendment, the bill then goes back to the Governor in its original form for his signature.

As explained in our previous letters, the legislation will enable Virginia's horsemen and breeders to be able to guide the development of the racing industry in the years to come. Once the legislation is signed, Colonial Downs will no longer have a monopoly on racing and there will be opportunities to establish new flat and harness sites – with pari-mutuel wagering – throughout the state.

Some of the highlights of legislative changes include:

  • The Commission now has the authority to recognize the flat and harness horsemen's groups.
  • Flat, harness and steeplechase meets can be conducted under a 14 day limited license so long as the owner or operator of the facility is a 501(c) 3 or 4 charitable entity.
  • As we explained in our February 25th letter, funds from the three national ADW companies (TVG, Twin Spires, and XpressBet) that used to go to Colonial Downs will now go to Alliance to promote and sustain thoroughbred and standardbred racing in Virginia. If Colonial Downs is relicensed it can keep the income from its ADW company (EZ Horseplay) to support racing at the New Kent facility.
  • The Horsemen will continue to receive 5% for their purse accounts from the three national ADWs and 5% when Colonial reopens its off track wagering sites. The Breeders Fund will continue to receive one percent from both the ADWs and the off track sites.

We are working with the Governor's Office and the Department of Agriculture to ensure final passage of the legislation and the Amendment and are looking ahead to establish a racing schedule for 2015 and going forward. In this regard, Colonial Downs proposed leasing the track, its off track wagering sites, and EZ Horseplay to the Alliance.  We have begun lease negotiations and will keep you informed as the process moves forward. 

While we may return to Colonial, the Alliance has been inspecting sites throughout the state for flat racing.  At this time, there are three sites which we feel may be suitable for racing and we are in discussions with the respective owners regarding improvements and timing.  We will update you as the details become available.

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