04/07/2015 2:31PM

Colonial Downs shutters its ADW

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Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va., on Tuesday abruptly shuttered its sole wagering business in the state, an account-wagering operation, in protest of horsemen’s support for an amendment to legislation designed to pave the way for live racing in Virginia to resume.

The decision to close the account-wagering operation, EZ Horseplay, makes good on a threat by Colonial to cease all betting operations in Virginia if the track did not reach an agreement with horsemen and breeders’ organizations on a lease of its properties by April 1. Though EZ Horseplay was shuttered immediately on Tuesday, most major national account-wagering companies still operate in the state.

In a statement released Tuesday, Jeff Jacobs, the chief executive of the company that owns Colonial, said the company decided to shutter EZ Horseplay because of the horsemen’s support for an amendment to legislation that would direct escrowed 2014 revenue to horsemen in the event that Colonial does not hold its own race meet this year. The revenue had accrued from account-wagering bets made in the state throughout last year, when Colonial did not run a race meet.

The dispute between horsemen and Colonial dates to early last year, when Colonial said it would seek to run an abbreviated race meet in 2014. Horsemen resisted, favoring a longer meet, and by the end of the year, the track had canceled its 2014 race meet, surrendered its racing license, and closed all of its offtrack betting parlors.

However, earlier this year, Colonial and the state’s horsemen’s groups united behind a push for legislation that would reallocate some account-wagering revenue from national betting companies so that the track and horsemen would get a larger share, paving the way for the resumption of live racing in 2015. The state’s House and Senate passed the bill in March, sending it to Gov. Terry McAuliffe for his approval or veto.

But soon after the bill was passed, the alliance between track and horsemen began to fray when Colonial announced it was no longer interested in operating the track. Instead, Colonial told horsemen that it was open to negotiating a lease of its racing assets, including its offtrack betting parlors and account-wagering company, to the state’s Thoroughbred and Standardbred interests, according to Frank Petramalo Jr., the executive director of the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association. Those negotiations failed, Petramalo said.

In response, horsemen requested that McAuliffe add an amendment to the existing legislation that would direct the escrowed revenue from 2014 to the horsemen if Colonial did not run a meet in 2015. That would allow the horsemen to fund race meets at alternate locations, Petramalo said. McAuliffe agreed to add the amendment.

The House and Senate are scheduled to meet April 15 to consider the amended horse-racing bill, along with other bills sent back to the legislature by McAuliffe.

constantine More than 1 year ago
Logic dictates that the only location for a track is in the Tidewater, Virginia Beach area. It would be far too costly to build there unless there was Casino Gambling involved to subsidize the racing. With the western part of Virginia being part of the bible belt, I doubt if this will ever happen. Racing in Virginia is DEAD with a capitol D. The only possible scenario is a small week long meet supported by an OTB system to finance it. This is pretty much what Jacobs wanted all along. If the horsemen and racing commission think they can put on a long meet, they are chasing fool's gold.
constantine More than 1 year ago
It seems that the intent is to race horses in Northern Virginia. One little problem with that, Maryland is just a stone throw away. Up until now, the jockeys and trainers for the Virginia races came from Maryland. If they try to race in Pimlico's and Rosecrofts back yard, I doubt if they will have jockeys and trainers to carry on any meet. Jacobs had the OTB system running smoothly, I doubt if any new group could do the same. It is one big giant mess.
Rick Lamond More than 1 year ago
Just what racing needs....another track closing because of the financial interests of track ownership/management. Don't be surprised if they want to bulldoze the track and develop an upscale shopping mall ala Hollywood Park. By the way, they still haven't built the shopping mall at Hollywood Park. Now they are holding out for the Rams to come back and build a football stadium there. The manure keeps getting deeper. There has to be a procedure whereby the prospective ownership groups and their long-term intentions can be scrutinized every time a racing facility changes hands. This ongoing piecemeal destruction of the horseracing industry must stop. Developers be damned.
Raymond Hackinson More than 1 year ago
I was there 4 years ago and thought the track was beautiful Except for Saratoga the aura and ambience were first rate. I'm sorry to see the track fail
Carl Poehler More than 1 year ago
But if it closes where will all the CT "horses" go when they can't win anymore at CT?
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
Delaware park.
wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
Delaware has huge purses and some of the best juice trainers--no way would a CT horse compete there
wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
Mountaineer
BNastanovich More than 1 year ago
I agree with Vickie. Colonial is a great spot that just needs a friendlier attitude, better service and a marketing department that encourages patronage.
Vickie Aument More than 1 year ago
COME ON - this is a beautiful track - BRING IT BACK!!!!
Paul More than 1 year ago
I agree, the meet has deteriorated a bit over the past years but a very nice track. I love betting their turf races. At one point, years ago I would refer to Colonial Downs as my personal cash register.