Several Virginia OTBs Closing During Dispute

The current contract between the horsemen and track expired at midnight Jan. 29.

With Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association failing to reach a contract agreement on this year's race schedule, the track has decided to temporarily close several off-track betting locations.

The current contract between the horsemen and track expired at midnight Jan. 29. The track said that without a contract its ability to accept wagers on Thoroughbred races is severely restricted. Colonial Downs will close its Alberta, Vinton, Martinsville, and Scott County satellite wagering facilities Jan. 31 until a contract is reached that will allow them to reopen. 

In a statement, the VHBPA said the OTB sites could not lawfully accept Thoroughbred wagering until the track and horsemen have an agreement in place.

"Every effort has been made to work with the VHBPA and I am very disappointed that we have reached this point," said Colonial president Ian Stewart. "I hope this interruption of normal business will be brief and that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached."

The track said customers will still be able to wager on Standardbred races at Richmond West Broad Street, Richmond Hurley's, Chesapeake Indian River Road, and Hampton locations. Also, Colonial said it believes customers still will be able to wager through its associated advance deposit wagering site, EZ Horseplay, as well as TVG, Xpressbet, and Twinspires. 

Late last year the Virginia Racing Commission ordered 25 days of Thoroughbred racing over five weeks for 2014, which is the same schedule Colonial Downs conducted in 2013. VHBPA executive director Frank Petramalo said the VRC schedule would be a last resort and the horsemen still hope to negotiate a deal that would include more race days, more racing weeks, or both.

The VHBPA release said there likely will be enough money in the purse fund to conduct an eight-week schedule with average daily purses of $200,000.