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Future of Colonial Downs up in air

April 07, 2008

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Published reports out of Virginia state Colonial Downs—which has been for sale since January—could be sold to a developer and torn down to make way for a housing development. The report in Saturday\'s Newport News Daily Press stated that track officials are hoping that the state legislature passes legislation to allow video racing machines, otherwise the site and its nine off-track betting parlors would close.

Despite the profitability of the off-track parlors, Colonial Downs has still lost money in each of the past four years. In January, Jacobs Entertainment, the parent company of Colonial Downs, announced the track and the 600 acres it sits on, and the off-track betting parlors, would be put up for sale.

A bill has been discussed the last two years that would allow video replays of races to be shown at Colonial Downs’ off-track parlors, machines that are currently in use at other tracks, including Oaklawn Park. Although the bill has garnered some support in the state Senate, Republican House Speaker Bill Howell is adamant against the expansion of gaming in the state.

The bill, which would allow for up to 10,000 of the racing machines to be installed at the parlors, is projected to bring in $330 million for the state’s transportation budget as well as provide Colonial Downs with an additional $283 million in revenue.

\"It would solidify Colonial Downs and it would propel Virginia racing into probably one of the top five states in the country,\" Ian Stewart, president of Colonial Downs, was quoted as saying.

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