The U.S. Virgin Islands could soon be home to a pair of world-class horse racetracks, thanks to a major bet by private company VIGL.
The company plans to invest more than $30 million in the expansion and modernization of local horse racing facilities.
The agreement calls for VIGL to take over management of both the Clinton E. Phipps racetrack on St Thomas and the Randall “Doc” James racetrack on St. Croix.
The plan is for VIGL to partner with the government to transform the local horse racing industry and potentially bring in new revenue streams and jobs.
VIGL currently operates the recently-renovated Caravelle Hotel and Casino in Christiansted.
US Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp is calling the territory’s legislature into a special session Nov. 28 to ratify the franchise agreement and update the laws that govern local horseracing.
Terms of the deal included the refurbishment and expansion of the two tracks; construction of bars, restaurants, lounges, restrooms, viewing stands, jockey locker rooms and vendor kiosks; new barns, quarantine areas and veterinary care facilities for horses; a minimum of 18 live race days annually on both islands in the first three years and minimum purse sizes of $100,000 per race day, among other tenets.
“The end result will be two new racetracks,” Mapp said. “Numerous new jobs will be created in both the construction and operations phase and we anticipate substantial new revenue streams.”
VIGL will not be eligible for tax benefits under the deal; Mapp said the company would be paying higher taxes on its gaming revenues than standard taxes paid by casino operators.
“Horseracing has a long history in the territory, but has fallen on hard times here and elsewhere,” Mapp said. “The Agreement we have reached with VIGL, and the legislation that will accompany it, will bring a substantial infusion of investment into the Territory, a fresh source of Government revenues, and the rebirth of the Virgin Islands’ storied horse racing industry.”
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