The Virginia House of Delegates has passed a bill that would allow the operator of Colonial Downs to install so&#45;called Instant Racing machines at the track and any of the 10 offtrack betting parlors allowed under Virginia law, setting up a debate in the state Senate as early as next week.The House passed the bill Tuesday by a vote of 79&#45;21 with the support of the Virginia Equine Alliance, an umbrella group for Thoroughbred interests in the state set up after the owner of Colonial Downs, Jacobs Entertainment, abruptly surrendered its license in 2014. The Senate is expected to take up the bill in committee next week, according to officials with the VEA.The legislation is being pushed in the wake of a potential deal to sell Colonial Downs to a Chicago&#45;based group calling itself Revolutionary Racing. The group is led by Prentice Salter and Larry Lucas, a former gambling lobbyist and former chairman of the account&#45;wagering company Youbet.com.The deal appears to hinge on the legislation being passed, according to several officials. Under the bill, the owner of Colonial would have the exclusive rights to operate the machines, which have proved lucrative in other states. Forms of gambling other than horse racing and the lottery are illegal in Virginia.The legislation does not designate the number of machines that would be allowed at Colonial Downs or its OTBs, instead leaving that up to the state&rsquo;s racing commission, which would be in charge of promulgating rules related to the devices. Instant Racing machines closely resemble slot machines, and they have been installed at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas and at multiple locations in Kentucky, where revenues from the machines have generated tens of millions of dollars for track owners and boosted the tracks&rsquo; purses.Jeb Hannum, executive director of the VEA, said Wednesday that the VEA has a &ldquo;memorandum of understanding&rdquo; with Revolutionary to share in some of the revenues from the machines, but he declined to provide percentages. He also said that the group anticipated that live racing would begin in fall 2019 should the legislation pass.&ldquo;We are cautiously optimistic,&rdquo; Hannum said.Colonial Downs opened to local fanfare in 1997, but the track struggled to make ends meet. The track last held live racing in 2013, despite a long history of Thoroughbred breeding in the region. A bitter disagreement between Jacobs and local horsemen over the proper length of the track&rsquo;s racing meet led to Jacobs surrendering the license the next year.Legislation passed in 2015 allowed the VEA to operate the 10 OTBs provided by Virginia law until a company received a license to operate Colonial. The VEA currently operates three OTBs, with another slated to open in March of this year, Hannum said.Under the current law, control of the remaining OTBs would be granted to the operator of Colonial Downs if the operator is licensed by the state racing commission, while the VEA would retain the rights to the OTBs it has already opened. Hannum said the memorandum of understanding with Revolutionary contained language related to control of the VEA offtrack betting parlors in the event of a sale, but he declined to provide specifics.The Virginia legislature has resisted efforts to legalize expanded gambling in the past, but the House vote on Tuesday occurred in the wake of the retirement of the longtime House speaker, William Howell, who had previously put up roadblocks to gambling bills.Dave Lermond, executive director of the Virginia Racing Commission, said Thursday that it was his &ldquo;belief&rdquo; that the deal with Revolutionary was contingent on the passage of the legislation. If the bill passes, Lermond said, Revolutionary would then apply for a gambling license, which would trigger a review of its operational plan and background checks of the principals. Any agreement between Revolutionary and local horsemen would also be subject to commission review and approval.&ldquo;Everyone here is pretty excited and crossing their fingers,&rdquo; he said.