Report: Colonial Downs on Market

Report: Colonial Downs on Market
Photo: Coady Photography

Colonial Downs in Virginia is on the market because of its inability to add other forms of gambling, track owner Jacobs Entertainment said in a Jan. 11 notice.

The proposed sale was reported Jan. 12 by the Richmond, Va., Times-Dispatch, which cited an e-mail statement sent by Jeff Jacobs, chief executive officer of the company.

“Colonial Downs has always been an artistic success and, in recent years, it has experienced economic improvement as well,” Jacobs said in the statement as reported by the newspaper. “Unfortunately, we have been unable to secure the tools necessary to allow us to grow live racing in Virginia to its full potential.”

Colonial Downs, located east of Richmond, opened in 1997 and since that time gradually has increased Thoroughbred racing dates. Handle on the live product has grown slowly, but officials have said on-track attendance hasn’t met expectations.

Colonial Downs was approved by the Virginia Racing Commission to offer 45 days of Thoroughbred racing in 2008. Purses will average about $225,000 a day. The track traditionally races when live racing in neighboring Maryland takes a break in the summer. It also offers a harness meet in the fall.

Colonial Downs owns and operates nine off-track wagering facilities in Virginia.

The Times-Dispatch reported Jacobs announced in 1999 he planned to sell the track because of heavy losses in its first two years.

Jacobs Entertainment, according to an online company description, operates The Lodge Casino and Gilpin Hotel Casino in Black Hawk, Colo.; the Gold Dust West Casinos in Reno, Carson City, and Elko, Nev.; and 16 truck-stop video gaming facilities throughout Louisiana.

Jacobs owns 50% of the company, while his father, Richard Jacobs, who co-founded Jacobs Entertainment, owns the other half.

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