From a Colonial Downs release
Citing legislation currently working its way through the 2015 Virginia Legislative Session which will deny Colonial Downs approximately $2 million of operating funds annually, Colonial Downs announced today the immediate shutdown of all its remaining pari-mutuel venues. Senate Bill 1097 will reallocate funds previously used to offset Colonial Downs live racing expenses towards a newly-created Northern Virginia horsemen’s coalition. This legislation and the ongoing dispute between Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (VHBPA) have caused Colonial Downs to take the action of closing all racing and wagering venues including EZ-Horseplay.
“It looks to me like VHBPA, as well as members of the Virginia Racing Commission and state legislature have decided to make it a priority to give Virginia horses an opportunity to run against each other in Northern Virginia,” said Jeff Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs Entertainment, owner of Colonial Downs. “To a certain extent that makes sense. However, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the fact that Virginia’s thoroughbred horses cannot compete against most horses from other states. That is why they do not race often in other states, and when they do race it is often at the lowest available purse level. To me this explains why the VHBPA was so strongly opposed to our efforts to hold high-end races with nationally competitive horses at Colonial Downs. They can’t compete at that level. Unfortunately, Virginia’s regulatory and legislative pari-mutuel framework is about to become oriented to subsidizing these horses. That may quiet the voices of the VHBPA; however, it is poor public policy and does nothing to grow the native industry.”
Stan Guidroz, Regional Vice President of Jacobs Entertainment added, “We understand the political desire to accommodate the owners of race horses that reside in Virginia today, however, we don’t think that it should be at the expense of a world class turf course run by people who want to bring world class racing to Virginia for decades to come. We had been hopeful that the Virginia Racing Commission would approve our request to enter into a long-term contract with an alternative horsemen’s group, who unlike VHPBA, shares our goal of high-end racing. Unfortunately, the VRC has shown no willingness to grant such approval. The VHBPA and the Virginia Gold Cup have secured legislative support moving the focus of Virginia horse racing to Northern Virginia. That has come at the expense of our 20-year effort to grow thoroughbred racing in New Kent County. We laid off our remaining employees this week. Previously, we employed over 600 people, and generated millions of dollars each year for Virginia as well as for the industry statewide.”
Jeff Jacobs concluded, “20 years ago political and business leaders of Virginia asked the Jacobs family to make a significant investment in Virginia. We invested over $80 million in an industry that has gone through a significant transition over that time. At a time when many race tracks are closing throughout the country we continue to be committed to running high quality, nationally recognized races at Colonial Downs. We still aspire to return the Virginia Derby to a nationally televised event, creating a new major league sporting event in Virginia. All we need is a level regulatory and legislative playing field. Now that we and the VHBPA have gone our separate ways, there will potentially be two venues for thoroughbred racing in Virginia. I hope the VRC will not look at the industry in terms of winners and losers. There is a potential win-win scenario. We need approval of a contract between Colonial Downs and a group of horsemen who are aligned with our goal of bringing high-end racing to Virginia. We believe the VRC has the authority to allow us to enter into such a contract which would allow us to begin a conversation regarding hosting a 2015 Virginia Derby this fall.”
Information for EZ Horseplay customers:
EZ Horseplay customers will need to close their accounts and have 2 choices to withdraw account balances:
- Withdraw funds at one of the 75 sites around Virginia that has a kiosk before the end of April.
- Contact the business office 1-877-374-7907 to have a check mailed for the balance of the account.
The ink is barely dry on the compromise legislation and Jeff Jacobs throws another fit in an attempt to re-do the deal. Just go away Jeff Jacobs. Virginia doesn’t need or want you.
“Just go away Jeff Jacobs. Virginia doesn’t need or want you.”
There is only one problem with that, VA Horseman. Jacobs owns the properties and controls the purse strings. The Horsemen had a good thing but messed it up. They could have stuck with the original plan of running 5 weeks of thoroughbred racing, but for them and their $10,000 claimers that just wasn’t good enough. I said this a long time ago. It is a battle the Horsemen can’t win, especially with limited funding. Jacobs invested $80 million in Colonial Downs, but yet the horsemen believe they have earned the right to control and manage horse racing in Virginia, even getting the Legislature and Governor involved. The comment should read, “Go away Virginia Horsemen. Virginia doesn’t need or want your cheap claiming horses!” The solution should be open the OTBs now and provide two to three weeks of high end live racing that is watchable!
You miss the point. Jacobs DOESN’T control the purse strings. The General Assembly does. The legislature crafted a compromise on how ADW revenues are to be apportioned. They used to go mostly to Colonial, who declined to hold racing last year and this year. The legislators rightly saw that as a no-go proposition, and cut off the corporate welfare for the out-of-state slot machine operator who wanted to run a track three days a year.
The compromise deal let Colonial run its own affairs and keep EZ Horseplay, but allowed the horsemen and breeders, the reason the industry exists, to benefit from their own interests. Jacobs now has buyers remorse over the deal he struck during the session, and now shuts down his business (again). He can throw his investment away, but that’s his own fault. The rest of us don’t exist so that he can suck off all the money in the horse business and ship it promptly out of state. Good riddance to bad trash.
Virginia racing is moving ahead, now that we as a Commonwealtrh have resolved not to be held hostage to a single track owned by an out-of-stater with no interest in promoting Virginia racing.
The Virginia Horsemen just don’t get it! They fought for over a year to get what they wanted without any success. So, they collectively go whining to the Legislature thinking government will solve their problems. The Legislature devised a way to give a bigger piece of the pie to the Horsemen. Now that you can call corporate welfare! You are being far too kind to yourselves thinking that horsemen and breeders are the only reason the industry exists. The industry exists largely because of millions in OTB revenues. By the way, there is nothing wrong with Jeff Jacobs watching his investment because after all it is his investment! When referring to Jacobs you said “Good riddance to bad trash.” Take a closer look and you will see that a lot of the bad trash is those crappy horses you are running around the track!
It’s possible I misunderstood the news articles today because I thought the EZ play had to end, not being something that Jacobs decided to do. I will be so glad when OTBs are open, especially for the Southern part of Virginia, because North Carolina have nothing! We are farther behind in time then Virginia. I hope it all works out.