Colonial Downs Shareholders Approve Privatization

Colonial Downs reported to the Virginia Racing Commission on Wednesday that the plan to privatize Colonial Downs was approved Jan. 10 by shareholders of the company that owns the Virginia track and its off-track betting facilities.

Shareholders who own 70% of the shares approved the merger agreement, effectively transferring ownership of Colonial Downs to GameCo, Inc. which is owned by Jeffrey P. Jacobs and Richard E. Jacobs Revocable Trust. The agreement required approval by stockholders that own two-thirds or more of the stock for it to become valid. Jim Weinberg, legal council of Colonial Holdings, said the merger agreement should be completed by the end of February. Shareholders will receive $1.12 per share as part of the agreement.

CD Entertainment, which is also owned by Jeffrey P. Jacobs and Richard E. Jacobs Revocable Trust, had held $25.7 million in loans to Colonial Holdings. Under the agreement, CD Entertainment will forgive $10 million of those loans. The loan's new due date will be extended from 2005 to 2009 with no principle payments required on the loan. Interest may be added to the principle and paid over the length of the loan.

Robin Williams, who was re-elected as chairman of the commission, reported that the Code Revision Committee had forwarded its legislative agenda to Sen. Kenneth Stolle (Virginia Beach) so that a bill may be prepared and introduced to Virginia's General Assembly.

The Code Revision Committee forwarded proposals that were modified slightly from the initial proposals developed by the commission's Blue Ribbon Committee. Under the legislative agenda, towns would be added to jurisdictions that could conduct local referenda. The proposal also includes raising or eliminating the cap on allowable satellite racing facilities in Virginia (currently six), allowing provisional licenses in advance of and subject to referenda, and allowing the commission to regulate account wagering as well as the 150 live racing dates required for a Class A track license holder.

In other matters, Lane Kneedler, counsel for the Maryland Jockey Club with respect to Virginia-related issues, described the negotiations on the Thoroughbred horseman's contract as moving forward "very productively" and "down to the final issues." A bridge agreement between Colonial Downs and the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association expires on Feb. 20.

Total handle for Colonial Downs was up 1.5% in 2001 from 2000. There was $123,606,163 wagered in 2001 in Virginia on both live or simulcast racing at Colonial Downs, an increase of $1,851,363 over the $121,754,800 that was wagered in 2000.

Wednesday's meeting was the first meeting for Anne Poulson as commissioner. Poulson is a past president of the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and chairman of the Virginia Racing Task Force. Poulson was recently appointed by Governor Jim Gilmore to fill the seat of Earnest Oare who had requested not to be re-appointed.