Monthly Archives: November 2019

Casino Gambling Could Generate Millions In VA But It’s A Complicated Wager State Study Says

On Monday November 25, the Joint Legislative Audit And Review Commission heard a briefing entitled “Gambling In The Commonwealth” presented by The Innovation Group, a consulting company hired to prepare and present the report. The study mandate was to estimate the fiscal and economic impacts of new forms of gaming, to access impacts on existing forms of gaming (lottery, horse race wagering, charitable gaming), to examine current and potential governance, regulatory and administrative structures for additional forms of gaming, and to review casino gaming laws in other states.

In brief, the report noted casinos authorized in SB 1126, sports wagering and online casino gaming are projected to generate nearly $370 million in net state revenue, accounting for impacts to other forms of gaming and new administrative costs.

Lottery and charitable gaming are projected to experience small declines in proceeds, but the impact on horse racing revenue would be substantial.

The following article appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch November 26 and was written by Michael Martz.

Casino gambling would be profitable for Virginia and localities, such as Richmond, where they could be built, but the state faces plenty of risks — from a surge in gambling addiction to a potentially devastating blow to existing gaming operations tied to the state’s horse-racing industry — according to a long-awaited legislative study of state gaming options.

The study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission estimated that, collectively, Virginia could gain $262 million annually in gaming tax revenue from five potential casinos, including one in Richmond that would generate almost one-third of the revenue and about 3,000 of the estimated 10,000 jobs that would be created.

The profits could be much higher, depending on the tax rate and whether a casino were to be built in Northern Virginia, which the study said would generate an additional $155 million in annual state gaming tax revenue and create an additional 4,400 jobs.

The commission had barely finished a two-hour review of the 10-month study on Monday when warning flares went up from Colonial Downs, owner of a horse track in New Kent County and four existing gaming emporiums that could lose business to casinos, and from the Pamunkey Indians, whose tribal sovereignty gives them the option of operating a casino under federal rather than state law.

“The Pamunkey Tribe has been marginalized for centuries and deserve some protections as they seek to gain financial independence and improve the lives of their members,” said spokesman Jay Smith, who added that the study recommendations “do not sufficiently protect Virginia’s only tribe with federal gaming rights.”

Colonial Downs, owner of Rosie’s “historical horse racing” parlors in Richmond and three other localities, said the opening of five or more casinos without an opportunity to compete for the licenses would “lead to job losses and a loss of tax revenue for localities and the state” by undermining a new industry that’s invested $300 million in Virginia in the last two years.

“This would send a terrible message to other job creators and capital providers looking to invest in Virginia,” spokesman Mark Hubbard said.

The study — which also considers sports betting, online gaming and currently unregulated slot-like video machines — appeared to diminish the appetite of some legislators to approve sweeping changes to Virginia gaming laws in a General Assembly session that will convene in January with new Democratic majorities in both chambers.

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, one of the authors of the legislative compromise that ordered the study, suggested that the legislature might be wise to “move incrementally” because of the complexity of the issues and the new political reality that the Nov. 5 elections created.

JLARC conducted the study with the help of two national consultants, The Innovation Group and Regulatory Management Counselors, to determine the potential tax and economic benefits of legalizing casino and other forms of gambling in Virginia. It also looked at the critical details of licensing and regulating the operations, helping people with gambling addiction, and protecting existing gaming operations, including the Virginia Lottery.

The lottery, for example, generated more than $600 million for K-12 public education in the last fiscal year but says its profits already are being reduced because of competition from thousands of unregulated, unlicensed and untaxed video machines that their operators say are legal because winning depends on skill rather than chance.

Norment, who has fumed at the reports that the machines would cost the lottery $140 million a year, said that “there’s going to be an unidentified senator who is going to put in legislation to prohibit and ban them.”

The lottery has said that the Rosie’s historical horse-racing parlors, which feature video machines that look like slots but run on the results of past races, pose much less of a financial threat than the so-called “skill machines.” Casino gaming would cost the lottery an estimated $30 million a year, the study said.

However, five potential casinos — in Richmond, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville and Bristol, as envisioned by legislation adopted this year to order the study — would reduce live-racing purses by $9 million a year. Colonial Downs would see a 45% reduction in what is now almost $300 million in annual revenues from historical horse-racing gaming parlors.

Colonial Downs is expected to open at least one more Rosie’s operation, and voters in Danville and Dumfries — a town in Prince William County — agreed in referendums earlier this month to allow historical horse racing in their localities. Norment suggested that Colonial Downs is creating a statewide footprint for gaming parlors that could become casinos.

However, that would depend on legislation that would require a competitive selection process for awarding casino licenses to maximize the revenue benefits and minimize risks, as the JLARC report recommends. The study also suggests that Virginia require the state to hire an independent consultant to evaluate the fiscal and economic benefits of casino proposals before choosing winners.

A competitive selection process could establish criteria, including a preference for tribal ownership, that could be evaluated by a special committee that JLARC staff recommended for considering competitive casino proposals. The state would run the process with help from affected localities, the study said.

“I think the state would be remiss if it did not include local input,” JLARC Associate Director Tracey Smith told the commission.

However, the Pamunkeys want any evaluation process to protect their rights as a federally recognized tribe. “We look forward to working with the General Assembly and the Governor to ensure adequate protections are in place for the Pamunkey Tribe,” Jay Smith, the tribe’s spokesman, said in a statement.

The study recommends the lottery as the most capable and least costly way to regulate casinos and other new forms of gaming. However, Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb, a fierce opponent of expanded gambling, said using the lottery “would only ensure that state government has a vested interest in promoting harmful and irresponsible gambling in perpetuity.”

Problem gambling would increase with casinos and other new forms of gaming, according to the study, which said the state has little funding to pay for prevention and treatment of gambling addiction. It said the state could use gaming revenue to pay for services that the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services could administer.

The study was limited to the five cities specified in legislation this year for potential casinos, although Northern Virginia was added at the insistence of House of Delegates leaders who wanted a statewide evaluation of potential sites and their relative benefits.

Successful casinos, each with a minimum $200 million capital investment, could be built in all of those localities, said Tracey Smith, who oversaw the staff study. “This doesn’t necessarily mean that those are the best localities.”

Norment, who had preferred to limit the study’s scope, replied, “Just because we specified some of those within the legislation, there should not be an assumption that we really had the expertise to know what we were doing.”

Sadler’s Joy Returns To Winners Circle Via Red Smith Stakes at Aqueduct

The following appeared in and was written by Bob Ehalt. Sadler’s Joy is owned by Woodslane Farm in The Plains, VA and has earned $2,471,360 from 27 career starts.

Rene and Lauren Woolcott operate a comparatively small breeding operation under the banner of Woodslane Farm.

They have only four mares in the United States and two in France.

Yet from humble roots mighty oaks can grow, and the Woolcotts can surely take pride in a certain 6-year-old homebred with more than $2 million in earnings who added to an already outstanding résumé as the curtain came down on one part of the turf racing season in New York.

Sadler’s Joy’s Sword Dancer saddlecloth is on display at Woodslane Farm in The Plains.

Sadler’s Joy, the pride of the Woolcotts and Woodslane Farm, returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in more than 20 months Nov. 23. He put a rash of narrow losses in some of the sport’s top grass stakes behind him, surging to a two-length victory over Trinity Farm’s Red Knight in the $202,000 Red Smith Stakes (G3T) at Aqueduct Racetrack, the New York Racing Association’s final graded turf stakes for males in 2019.

“He’s such a treasure,” Lauren Woolcott said of the Tom Albertrani trainee, a son of Kitten’s Joy  out of Woodslane’s Dynaformer mare Dynaire. “We bred him, own him, and we still have the mare. She throws such beautiful horses.”

Sadler's Joy wins the 2019 Red Smith Stakes at Aqueduct
Photo: Coglianese PhotosThe connections of Sadler’s Joy accept the Red Smith trophy at Aqueduct Racetrack

Sadler’s Joy’s 3-year-old half sister by Lemon Drop Kid , Dyna Passer, was third for Woodslane and Albertrani in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational Stakes in September.

Though the win was only the seventh in 26 starts for Sadler’s Joy, he has been a gem of consistency, finishing fourth or better 23 times. The $110,000 paycheck brought his earnings up to a lofty $2,471,360.

“It’s all about being there, and ‘Sadler’ is always there,” Lauren Woolcott said. “He didn’t have any wins lately, but he always tries.”

The entrance to Woodslane Farm’s main barn at The Plains.

Sadler’s Joy had been winless in 10 starts since taking the Mac Diarmida Stakes (G2T) in March 2018, but his two previous tries were testaments to his competitive spirit at the top level among distance turf runners. After losing by a neck in the Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T), he was third, beaten only a half-length, in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1T).

It took a while to bounce back from the Joe Hirsch, in which he uncharacteristically contested the early pace, and Sadler’s Joy missed a third consecutive trip to the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T).

Instead, Albertrani pointed the chestnut horse to the 1 3/8-mile Red Smith, the runner’s first start in a grade 3 stakes since his stakes debut in the W. L. McKnight Handicap (G3T) in January 2017.

Sadler’s Joy won the 2017 Sword Dancer at Saratoga. He finished second in the 2019 edition.

And Sadler’s Joy responded with a grade 1 effort. As the field of 11 in the Red Smith turned for home, they were strung seven wide across the track, with Sadler’s Joy moving in the six path. Reunited with jockey Javier Castellano after he was ridden by Jose Lezcano in his two previous tries, Sadler’s Joy swept to the front at the top of the stretch, raising some concerns he might revert to old antics and wait on horses. Yet in Sadler’s Joy’s fourth, and likely last, start in 2019, Castellano kept the horse’s mind on the business at hand, and the $1.35-to-1 favorite ($4.70) cruised to the wire in 2:15.76.

“He came with a lot of determination down the lane. He wasn’t waiting on anyone today,” Albertrani said. “Javier gave him the perfect ride. He likes to make that wide, sweeping move at the end. He was much the best today.”

While plans call for the Kentucky-bred to begin a career at stud in 2020, Albertrani hopes his grade 1 winner can make it to Dubai for the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) March 28 at about 1 1/2 miles before calling it a career.

“It was nice to close the year with a win,” Albertrani said. “Hopefully we can get him to Dubai and maybe get a race in him before that in Florida.”

Albertrani said the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes (G1T) was an unlikely target for Sadler’s Joy because of the shorter-than-preferred 1 3/16-mile distance.

Red Knight, a 5-year-old homebred Pure Prize gelding trained by Bill Mott, found himself behind that wall of horses in the stretch and followed Sadler’s Joy to rally for second under Junior Alvarado. He had 1 1/2 lengths on the third-place finisher, New York-bred Dot Matrix, Ten Strike Racing’s Freud  gelding trained by Brad Cox. Runnymede Racing’s Postulation, sent off at 75-1 odds, was fourth for trainer Michael Matz.

Matthew Schera’s grade 1-winning 8-year-old Glorious Empire set the pace through six furlongs in 1:13.95 but faded to last.

Six Virginia-Certified Horses Earn Five Digit Bonus Checks

A total of 248 Virginia-Certified horses have won awards from the residency bonus initiative through the first ten months of 2019 including six who earned the maximum $10,000 bonus. 

Two Certified horses competed in the $100,000 Rosie’s Stakes August 31 at Colonial Downs which was won by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Four Wheel Drive. Maryland-bred So Street was runner-up, finishing 3 3/4 lengths behind the impressive winner. The 2-year-old Street Magician gelding, bred by Larry Johnson, did pick up a win at Colonial August 8 and collected a $9,750 bonus check for that effort. So Street has bankrolled $158,923 from seven starts and earned his $10,000 bonus September 28 when he captured the $100,000 Howard County Stakes at Laurel. He spent his six month residency at the Legacy Farm in Bluemont.

So Street wins the Howard County Stakes at Laurel September 28. Photo by Jim McCue.

Fourth place finisher in the Rosie’s Stakes was Hypothesis, a West Virginia-bred 2-year-old whose only loss in four starts came at New Kent. The Algorithms gelding has earned $86,025 courtesy of three wins at Charles Town. He scored in a maiden special weight, in September’s Henry Mercer Memorial and most recently, in the October 12 Vincent Moscarelli Memorial. Owned by Jill Daniel and trained by Crystal Pickett, Hypothesis spent his six months in the Commonwealth at Whiskey Creek Farm in Berryville.

Two other Certified horses reached the winners circle at Colonial Downs. Maryland-bred Elevated Forever went gate-to-wire in a $25,000 maiden claimer on opening weekend and scored a $3,740 bonus. The 3-year-old Jump Start gelding was best in a 14 horse field at 19-1 with Daniel Centeno in the irons. Elevated Forever spent his six months at Morgan’s Ford Farm & Warwick Stable in Front Royal.

In addition to a win at Colonial and in the Maryland Million Ladies, Zonda won at Laurel on May 5th. Photo by Jim McCue.

West Virginia-bred Zonda collected a $9,000 bonus from a $60,000 allowance victory August 8 at Colonial. The 3-year-old Scat Daddy filly also bagged a $10,000 award when she captured the $125,000 Maryland Million Ladies on October 19. The James Lawrence trainee is owned by Matthew Schera and has earnings of $159,407. She spent her six months at the Braeburn Training Center in Crozet.

Four other Certified winners earned $10,000 awards this year — New York-breds NY Traffic and Bassman Dave, Pennsylvania-bred Capital Q and Kentucky-bred Dyna Passer.

NY Traffic scored in a $90,000 maiden special weight at Parx on October 12. The 2-year-old Cross Traffic colt is owned by John Farrell & Leonard Liberto and spent his six months at Sunny Dell Farm in Barboursville.

Dyna Passer wins a maiden special weight at Belmont May 23rd. Photo by Adam Coglianese.

Bassman Dave connected in a $78,000 maiden special weight at Saratoga August 10. Owned by Michael Henning, the 3-year-old Big Brown gelding wired the field which helped generate his current $82,760 bankroll. Bassman Dave resided at Ingleside Training Center in Montpelier Station. 

Capital Q’s lone victory in six starts came in a $75,000 maiden special weight August 4 at Parx. The 2-year-old Ed Padrino filly was best of ten in an upset where she paid $59.00 to win. Owned by Richard Ciavardone, Capital Q spent time in Virginia at Morgan’s Ford Farm & Warwick Stable in Front Royal.

Dyna Passer, who has competed in Grade I and 2 stakes at Belmont this year, prevailed in a wide open $90,000 maiden special weight at Belmont May 23. Owned and bred by Woodslane Farm in Middleburg, the 3-year-old Lemon Drop filly has a bankroll of $185,810 from eight starts.

Parisian Diva wins at Charles Town August 24th. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

Winningest horse since the program’s inception is Parisian Diva, a 3-year-old filly who was bred in West Virginia. Owned by Melissa Golden, the daughter of Freedom Child has won eight races in just over 13 months, all at Charles Town. Most recently, she won the $75,000 Tourism Office Breeders Classic Stakes and collected her largest bonus check yet of $8,943. In six victories this year, her awards total $34,723. When combined with two other wins in 2018, the award total rises to $45,643. Parisian Diva’s overall bankroll stands at $242,170 through 13 starts. Her residency was spent at Chance Farm in Gordonsville.

For information on the Virginia Certified Residency program, visit        

Danville Voters Back Pari-Mutuel Wagering; Virginia Racing Takes Another Step Forward

The following appeared in the Danville Register & Bee and was written by John R. Crane. Virginia’s horse racing industry took another big step forward November 5th when voters in Dumfries and Danville approved pari-mutuel betting. This will open the door for another pair of Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums to open. Current Rosie’s sites are in New Kent, Richmond, Vinton and Hampton.

DANVILLE — It looks like Danville will be getting a Rosie’s Gaming Emporium.

City voters decided to take a chance in favor of allowing an off-track horse race betting facility in Danville, according to unofficial results from the registrar’s office.

An OTB area inside Rosie’s newest location in Hampton will simulcast up to 20 tracks from around the country on a daily basis.

According to unofficial numbers from the Virginia Department of Elections, 51.87% (5,083 voters) voted in favor of pari-mutuel wagering and 48.1% (4,717 voters) voted against it.

“We are extremely pleased,” Colonial Downs spokesman Mark Hubbard said Tuesday night. “It’s great that voters in Danville saw the potential for good jobs and significant tax revenues and making Danville a better place.”

Hubbard said it still was premature to say where Colonial Downs would like to build a Rosie’s.

Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums are currently located in New Kent, Richmond, Hampton and Vinton.

“This was an important first step and now we’ll begin in earnest the process of working with Danville city leaders to determine exactly what project the community would like to see,” he said.

If a facility opens in Danville, it would include two types of betting: historic horse racing involving simulated, video game-like races in which players bet on a chosen horse and satellite betting on real-life horse races taking place throughout North America.

The official ballot question city voters decided was: “Shall pari-mutuel wagering be permitted in the City of Danville at satellite facilities in accordance with Chapter 29 … of Title 59.1 of the Code of Virginia?”

Rosie’s locations feature Historical Horse Racing terminals along with live simulcast wagering.

State law mandates localities that have not already approved pari-mutuel betting must hold a voter referendum to decide whether a wagering facility can operate in the community.

Dumfries Voters Approve Pari-Mutuel Betting

The following article appeared in the Prince William Times and was written by Daniel Berti . Virginia’s horse racing industry took another big step forward November 5th when voters in Dumfries and Danville approved pari-mutuel betting. This will open the door for another pair of Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums to open. Current Rosie’s sites are in New Kent, Richmond, Vinton and Hampton.

Voters in the Town of Dumfries have approved a ballot question that will allow for the opening of a “Rosie’s Gaming Emporium,” a pari-mutuel betting parlor with 150 “historical horse-race” betting machines – essentially, electronic slot machines.

The measure was approved by 467 voters who cast ballots in favor of allowing pari-mutuel betting, while 306 people voted against it. 

The Rosie’s Hampton location, which opened in late October, is next to Bass Pro and can be accessed by Exits 263 or 264 off I-64.

The Virginia General Assembly approved off-track facilities with historical horse-race betting machines after authorizing a deal to reopen the Colonial Downs track in New Kent County in 2018. 

The Colonial Downs Group has since opened four pari-mutuel betting satellite facilities in Virginia, the first in New Kent, followed by facilities in Vinton, Richmond and Hampton. So far, Colonial Downs is the only entity licensed to operate pari-mutuel betting facilities in Virginia.

The Dumfries and Danville Rosie’s locations will be the fifth and sixth in Virginia. Locations now open are in New Kent, Richmond, Hampton and Vinton.

The Town of Dumfries, with its proximity to Interstate 95 and U.S. 1, offers a convenient location for the first Rosie’s in Northern Virginia. It also offers a smaller pool of voters to persuade than most localities in the region. Dumfries has 2,700 registered voters, less than 1 percent the 285,000 registered voters in Prince William County.

Rosie’s facilities serve food and alcoholic beverages and allow patrons to vote on both live horse racing and historical horse racing, which happens through machines. People place bets on HHR machines that feed into a collective pool that players can win — with various purses.

Rosie’s locations feature both smoking and non-smoking HHR sections, a higher lmits area, and an OTB.

The races are “historical,” meaning they are actual races that took place in past years. Because the games pull from such a vast pool of past races, it would be difficult or impossible for players to know the outcome before placing their bets. Rosie’s patrons can also bet on live horse racing. 

It’s not yet known where or when the Rosie’s will open in Dumfries.

Colonial Downs Group Celebrates Six Months of Success

Colonial Downs Group Celebrates Six Months of Success

Tax Revenues, Jobs & Player Activity All Exceed Expectations

Richmond, VA – November 4, 2019 – Colonial Downs Group announced today its first six months of financial results since beginning operations on April 18, 2019 in New Kent County. The results also include operations in Vinton, which opened on May 6, 2019 and four months of results in Richmond, which opened on June 29, 2019. Colonial Downs Group is generating additional tax revenues and jobs with the opening of its fourth Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Hampton last week on October 29, 2019.

The newest Rosie’s location in Hampton opened with a ribbon cutting last week.

To date Colonial Downs Group has generated the following:

·       Over 1,000 jobs in New Kent, Vinton, Richmond and Hampton

·       $ 5,911,366 in tax revenue to the Commonwealth of Virginia

·       $ 2,730,165 in tax revenue to New Kent County

·       $ 301,641 in tax revenue to the Town of Vinton

·       $ 738,369 in tax revenue to the City of Richmond

·       Handle (amounts played) of  $729,192,184 (HHR) & $24,374,840 Pari-mutuel

·       Total prizes to players of $674,103,572 (HHR) & $17,585,518 Pari-mutuel

·       Annual payroll of $36.2 Million                                                                                                

Aaron Gomes, chief operating officer of Colonial Downs Group, stated, “We promised to deliver good jobs and generate significant tax revenues across the Commonwealth by bringing together gaming enthusiasts, and the community to experience an exciting and fun new activity at Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums and through the return of thoroughbred horseracing at Colonial Downs racetrack. We are extremely grateful to our patrons who have embraced what we are offering and helped us keep our commitment. The results are exceeding expectations and we look forward to continued growth, opportunity and economic development.”

Colonial Downs Group presently operates 2,150 Horse Racing Machines (HHRs), and owns and operates seven off-track betting locations. Thirty-six thousand spectators attended the live racing events at Colonial Downs racetrack in New Kent County and more than fifteen million viewers across the nation watched and bet on the races through the TVG network in 2019. 

About Colonial Downs: Colonial Downs’ bright future features the return of live thoroughbred racing and full card simulcasting with the excitement of innovative historic horse racing (HHR) gaming technology. In collaboration with the Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) and Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA), Colonial Downs has brought competitive horse racing back to New Kent County and the Commonwealth with the re-opening of the best turf track in the country and a network of satellite HHR facilities branded as “Rosie’s”. Colonial Downs Group is making a $300 million investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia creating 1,000 new jobs. This effort will generate $25 million annually in state tax revenues, $17 million annually in local tax revenues and $25 million annually to Virginia’s horse industry. The project is not receiving any tax credits or government incentives.