There are several bills being offered by the various stakeholders in Virginia racing and breeding, but none are likely to impact purses or the Breeders Fund if history repeats itself again in 2011.
Del. Ed Scott of Culpeper is sponsoring HB 1832 for the VTA and VHBPA. The primary item in this bill was the creation of Restricted Wagering Facilities (RWFs) which would allow Colonial Downs to open small OTBs in existing restaurants without an enabling referendum. The bill called for local and VRC approval to open the small OTBs (RWFs) which would be similar to the ones currently operating at Finn McCool’s and Mulligans, both in Richmond.
Unfortunately, prominent Republicans in the House of Delegates have no appetite for bills that they see “expanding gambling” and little interest in our argument that with 5,000 lottery outlets, almost unlimited charitable gaming and the Internet, there really is no place left to expand gambling – it’s everywhere.
That said, we are still pursuing the passage of the bill without the RWF component as it contains some housekeeping measures. In addition, we will be seeking an informal General Assembly study on the racing and breeding industries. This will allow the industry to have an audience with a group of legislators for the purpose of presenting the facts of our case for needed growth in the face of intense out-of-state and slot machine-fueled competition.
Colonial Downs is pursuing several pieces of legislation through the Senate. SB 1429 would increase the number of traditional OTBs from 10 to 20 along with other technical and political items. While this bill will likely pass the Senate, it will face stiff opposition in the House.
The Virginia Racing Commission is pursuing two bills – SB 1333 and SB 1332. We predict the provisions of SB 1333 will be incorporated into another bill. Its primary purpose is to give the VRC the ability to adjust the takeout on wagers in Virginia placed on live racing in Virginia (about 5% of the total handle). The other bill, SB 1332, deals with various issues related to those pursuing a “limited” license to conduct live racing the likes of the Strawberry Hill race meet held at Colonial Downs. This bill should be seen as “non-controversial” and pass both houses.
Finally, Senator Tommy Norment will once again offer a bill to permit “historic horseracing” or Instant Racing as it is known in Arkansas and other jurisdictions. This bill was merged with a similar bill offered by the horsemen and breeders through Senator Mark Herring. Herrings bill gave a larger percentage to purses and the Breeders Fund and Norment agreed to the changes. Several version of this bill have passed the Senate in previous years only to be killed by the leadership of the House of Delegates.
We will keep you posted about what you can do to help as these bills make their ways to various committees.
To read the details of any of these bills, click here and use the bill search box in the lower left.