NEW KENT, VA (WWBT) - Colonial Downs announced on Tuesday the immediate closing of all racing and wagering venues, the latest in an ongoing dispute with horse owners and trainers in Virginia.
The announcement, which includes the EZ-Horseplay gaming, comes after the General Assembly funded a separate Northern Virginia horsemen's coalition. Colonial Downs says the move cost the track around $2 million in annual operating funds. The off-track betting facilities on West Broad Street in Richmond, and in Chesapeake and Hampton will close on Wednesday.
The company laid off all remaining employees this week, except for a few remaining administrative officials.
Colonial Downs had handed in its racing license in November, when the Virginia Racing Commission was unable to get the track and horsemen to agree on a racing schedule.
A compromise agreement made its way through the General Assembly, but an amendment added by Governor Terry McAuliffe effectively allowed the horsemen to run off-track betting without Colonial Downs, the track said.
For more than 30 years Alphoso Bakus has been betting on horses its safe to say the off track betting parlor on broad is like his second home. Word of its closing is a crushing blow for Alphoso and more than 30 employees who are now out of a job.
"I know for a fact you have a lot of people support horse racing and loved it," Bakus said.
The closing of those off track betting parlors comes on the heels of an ongoing dispute between the Virginia Horsemen's Association and Colonial Downs in regards to how the Horse racing seasons in Virginia should run.
We were outside the Broad Street location today as workers moved office equipment out of that parlor. Kyle Calera runs RPM Superstore just across the street. He wasn't surprised to hear word of the closing.
"I knew it was probably going to happen we've noticed over the years, we have been there for 12 years and less and less clients have been going over there and its pretty much a victim of the internet," Calera said.
Colonial Downs will still maintain the New Kent track and building and continue to try and work with the racing commission on an agreement. The next commission meeting is set for Wednesday and track officials hope to convince officials to enter into a contract with a new horsemen's association.