Historic bill signing clears path for Colonial Downs reopening in New Kent
After opening its doors on Sept. 1, 1997 and closing on Oct. 14, 2014, Colonial Downs remained dormant after 6,260 days of operation. Now, after three-and-a-half years of no activity, the facility will reopen once again.
Governor Ralph Northam signed into legislation House Bill 1609 Friday afternoon, allowing for that betting on historical horse racing and establishing historic horse racing as a form of horse racing. This allows for bets to be placed on pari-mutuel poos from wagers placed on previously conducted races at both the racetrack owned or operated by a licensee or satellite facilities.
“Horse racing is a tradition,” said Northam. “This is a good day for Virginia to get back to the track.”
The reopening of Colonial Downs has an impact from many different aspects, especially financially for New Kent County.
“When the track closed, the county was losing about $400,000 a year,” said District 1 supervisor and board chairman Thomas Evelyn. “We are looking at a lot more money that will be coming into the county.
“We are projecting returns of seven to eight times more than the $400,00 that came to the county before the closed,” the supervisor continued. “This will bring back jobs, have an impact on local businesses, restaurants, and hay [sales].”
Colonial Downs is expected early next year and is projected to hire 1,400 employees to assist with operations.