Ninth Colonial OTB Approved

The Virginia Racing Commission May 25 approved an application for Virginia's newest satellite wagering facility near Weber City, which is in Scott County in southwestern Virginia.

The Scott County application is the third satellite wagering facility to be licensed in as many months. The commission approved a facility in Henry County, near Martinsville in March, and in April gave the go-ahead to an application in Chesapeake, the second facility in that jurisdiction.

"The way things are going we should have three on-line by the end of the year," Colonial Downs general manager John Mooney said.

"Wednesday's approval increased the number of facilities to nine, essentially doubling the number of facilities in the last two years," explained Anne Poulson, who chairs the commission. "I think this shows that Colonial Downs is being a good corporate citizen and localities are reaping the economic benefits of the facilities."

The Scott County facility is projected to generate $18 million in handle, create 50 jobs, and have an annual economic impact of $1.34 million in expenditures and taxes. The combined expenditure of the land acquisition and renovation will total $3.6 million. The annual purse money generated by the facility is estimated to be $800,000, which equates to four additional days of live Thoroughbred racing at Colonial's current $200,000 per day purse structure. Colonial Downs also offers harness racing with a $50,000 per day purse structure in the fall.

The 13,000 square foot facility will be a refit of a building that housed a car dealership and is scheduled to be open by the end of the year. Located on State Rte. 23 with access to a four-lane highway near one of the largest lottery outlets in the Commonwealth, Poulson believe the site offers an entertainment value where there is not much competition for the entertainment dollar.

"I think there are areas around there that are familiar with our industry," observed Mooney.

"The Commission was pleased with the site location. It's a high visibility, high traffic area located within a block of the Tennessee state line,' said Poulson about the location. "Their economic development people were enthusiastic about the program. While it is located in a remote portion of the state, it has access to a fair number of people in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia."

Poulson added that Scott County plans to use Colonial Downs as a cornerstone of its economic development program to cross promote other little known tourism sites.

With the recent commission approvals, nine of the 10 facilities allowed by Virginia's General Assembly have been approved or licensed leaving Westmoreland County as the only eligible jurisdiction without an approved facility. Colonial Downs officials are looking at options in Westmoreland, where a Maryland off-track betting facility operated in the Town of Colonial Beach until it was destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

Under Virginia law, localities are required to approve a referendum before a satellite wagering facility may be licensed. The satellite wagering facilities are operated by Colonial Downs, which holds Virginia's only unlimited license to operate on and off-track pari-mutuel wagering.