Code of Virginia

Creating a Report: Check the sections you'd like to appear in the report, then use the "Create Report" button at the bottom of the page to generate your report. Once the report is generated you'll then have the option to download it as a pdf, print or email the report.

Code of Virginia
Title 59.1. Trade and Commerce
Chapter 29. Horse Racing and Pari-Mutuel Wagering
5/14/2021

Article 2. Licenses.

§ 59.1-375. Owner's and operator's license required.

No person shall construct, establish or own a horse racetrack or satellite facility where pari-mutuel wagering is permitted, unless he has obtained an owner's license issued by the Commission in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

No person shall operate pari-mutuel wagering or conduct any race meeting at which wagering is permitted with his knowledge or acquiescence, unless he has obtained an operator's license issued by the Commission in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

No person to whom an owner's or operator's license has been issued nor any officer, director, partner, or spouse or immediate family member thereof shall make any contribution to any candidate for public office or public office holder at the local or state level.

No license issued under the provisions of this chapter shall be transferable.

1988, c. 855; 1991, c. 591; 1992, c. 820.

§ 59.1-376. Limited licenses; transfer of meet; taxation; authority to issue; limitations.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 59.1-375 or § 59.1-378 but subject to such regulations and criteria as it may prescribe, the Commission is authorized to issue limited licenses, provided such licenses shall permit any holder to conduct a race meeting or meetings for a period not to exceed 14 days in any calendar year, or in the case of a significant infrastructure limited licensee, 75 days in any calendar year.

B. The Commission may at any time, in its discretion, authorize any organization or association licensed under this section to transfer its race meeting or meetings from its own track or place for holding races, to the track or place for holding races of any other organization or association licensed under this chapter upon the payment of any and all appropriate license fees. No such authority to transfer shall be granted without the express consent of the organization or association owning or leasing the track to which such transfer is made.

C. For any such meeting the licensee shall retain and pay from the pool the tax as provided in § 59.1-392.

D. No person to whom a limited license has been issued nor any officer, director, partner, or spouse or immediate family member thereof shall make any contribution to any candidate for public office or public office holder at the local or state level.

1988, c. 855; 1991, c. 591; 2015, cc. 731, 751.

§ 59.1-376.1. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2009, c. 142, cl. 2.

§ 59.1-377. Application for owner's license.

A. Any person desiring to construct or own a horse racetrack or satellite facility where pari-mutuel wagering is permitted shall file with the Commission an application for an owner's license. Such application shall be filed at the time and place prescribed by the Commission, and shall be in such form and contain such information as prescribed by the Commission, including but not limited to the following:

1. The name and address of such person; if a corporation, the state of its incorporation, the full name and address of each officer and director thereof, and if a foreign corporation, whether it is qualified to do business in this Commonwealth; if a partnership or joint venture, the name and address of each officer thereof;

2. The name and address of each stockholder or member of such corporation, or each partner of such partnership or joint venture, and of each person who has contracted for a pecuniary interest in the applicant or the enclosure where race meetings or pari-mutuel wagering will be conducted, whether such interest is an ownership or a security interest, and the nature and value of such interest, and the name and address of each person who has agreed to lend money to the applicant;

3. Such information as the Commission deems appropriate regarding the character, background and responsibility of the applicant and the members, partners, stockholders, officers and directors of the applicant;

4. The location and description of the racetrack, place or enclosure where such person proposes to hold such meetings or wagering, including the name of any county, city or town in which any property of such track or satellite facility is or will be located. The Commission shall require such information about the enclosure and location of such track as it deems necessary and appropriate to determine whether they comply with the minimum standards provided in this chapter, and whether the conduct of a race meeting or pari-mutuel wagering at such location would be in the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth;

5. Such information relating to the financial responsibility of the applicant as the Commission deems appropriate;

6. If any of the facilities necessary for the conduct of racing or pari-mutuel wagering are to be leased, the terms of such lease; and

7. Any other information which the Commission in its discretion deems appropriate.

B. Any application filed hereunder shall be verified by the oath or affirmation of an officer of the applicant, and shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable application fee as determined by the Commission.

C. Any person who knowingly makes a false statement to the Commission for the purposes of obtaining a license under this article shall be guilty of a Class 4 felony.

1988, c. 855; 1991, c. 591; 1992, c. 820.

§ 59.1-378. Issuance of owner's license.

A. The Commission shall consider all applications for an owner's license and may grant a valid owner's license to applicants who meet the criteria set forth in this chapter and established by the Commission. The Commission shall deny a license to any applicant unless it finds that the applicant's facilities are or will be appropriate for the finest quality of racing.

B. The Commission shall deny a license to an applicant if it finds that for any reason the issuance of a license to the applicant would not be in the interest of the people of the Commonwealth or the horse racing industry in the Commonwealth, or would reflect adversely on the honesty and integrity of the horse racing industry in the Commonwealth, or that the applicant, or any officer, partner, principal stockholder, or director of the applicant:

1. Has knowingly made a false statement of material fact or has deliberately failed to disclose any information requested;

2. Is or has been found guilty of any illegal, corrupt, or fraudulent act, practice, or conduct in connection with any horse racing in this or any other state, or has been convicted of a felony;

3. Has at any time knowingly failed to comply with the provisions of this chapter or of any regulations of the Commission;

4. Has had a license or permit to hold or conduct a horse race meeting denied for just cause, suspended, or revoked in any other state or country;

5. Has legally defaulted in the payment of any obligation or debt due to the Commonwealth;

6. Has constructed or caused to be constructed a racetrack or satellite facility for which a license was required under § 59.1-377 hereof without obtaining such license, or has deviated substantially, without the permission of the Commission, from the plans and specifications submitted to the Commission; or

7. Is not qualified to do business in Virginia or is not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this Commonwealth.

C. The Commission shall deny a license to any applicant unless it finds:

1. That, if the corporation is a stock corporation, that such stock is fully paid and nonassessable, has been subscribed and paid for only in cash or property to the exclusion of past services, and, if the corporation is a nonstock corporation, that there are at least twenty members;

2. That all principal stockholders or members have submitted to the jurisdiction of the Virginia courts, and all nonresident principal stockholders or members have designated the Executive Secretary of the Commission as their agent for receipt of process;

3. That the applicant's articles of incorporation provide that the corporation may, on vote of a majority of the stockholders or members, purchase at fair market value the entire membership interest of any stockholder or require the resignation of any member who is or becomes unqualified for such position under § 59.1-379; and

4. That the applicant meets the criteria established by the Commission for the granting of an owner's license.

1988, c. 855; 1990, c. 206; 1992, c. 820; 2015, cc. 731, 751.

§ 59.1-378.1. Licensing of owners or operators of certain pari-mutuel facilities.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 59.1-391, the Commission may grant a license, for a duration to be determined by the Commission, to the owner or operator of a facility for the purpose of conducting pari-mutuel wagering on (i) thoroughbred and standard bred race meetings and (ii) simulcast horse racing at that facility in conjunction with the race meetings for a period not to exceed 14 days in any calendar year, provided that, prior to making application for such license, (a) the facility has been approved by the Commission and (b) the owner or operator of such facility has been granted tax-exempt status under § 501(c)(3) or (4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

B. In deciding whether to grant any license pursuant to this section, the Commission shall consider (i) the results of, circumstances surrounding, and issues involved in any referendum conducted under the provisions of § 59.1-391 and (ii) whether the Commission had previously granted a license to such facility, owner, or operator.

C. In no event shall the Commission issue more than 12 licenses in a calendar year pursuant to this section.

1996, cc. 663, 750; 2000, c. 1002; 2014, cc. 564, 625; 2015, cc. 731, 751.

§ 59.1-379. Refusal of owner's license.

No owner's license or renewal thereof shall be granted to any corporation if the Commission finds that any principal stockholder of such stock corporation, or any member of such nonstock corporation:

1. Is or has been guilty of any illegal, corrupt or fraudulent act, conduct or practice in connection with horse racing in this or any other state, or has knowingly failed to comply with the provisions of this chapter or Commission regulations;

2. Has had a license or permit to hold or conduct a race meeting denied for cause, suspended or revoked in any other state or country; or

3. Has at any time during the previous five years knowingly failed to comply with the provisions of this chapter or any Commission regulations.

1988, c. 855.

§ 59.1-380. Duration, form of owner's license; bond.

A license issued under § 59.1-378 shall be for the period set by the Commission, not to be less than twenty years, but shall be reviewed annually. The Commission shall designate on the license the duration of such license, the location of such track or satellite facility or proposed track or satellite facility and such other information as it deems proper. The Commission shall establish criteria and procedures for license renewal.

The Commission shall require (i) a bond with surety or (ii) a letter of credit, acceptable to the Commission, and in an amount determined by it, to be sufficient to cover any indebtedness incurred by the licensee to the Commonwealth.

1988, c. 855; 1992, c. 820; 2000, c. 1011.

§ 59.1-381. Application for operator's license.

A. Any person desiring to hold a race meeting or operate a satellite facility shall file with the Commission an application for an operator's license. Such application may be made in conjunction with an application for an owner's license, if appropriate. It shall be filed at the time and place prescribed by the Commission and contain such information as prescribed by the Commission, including all information prescribed for an owner's license under § 59.1-377 and, in addition, the date the applicant wishes to conduct a race meeting.

B. Any application filed hereunder shall be verified by the oath or affirmation of an officer of the applicant and shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable application fee as determined by the Commission.

1988, c. 855; 1992, c. 820.

§ 59.1-382. Issuance of operator's license.

The Commission shall promptly consider any application for an operator's license and grant a valid operator's license to applicants who meet the criteria set forth in this chapter and established by the Commission. The Commission shall deny a license to any applicant, unless it finds:

1. That such applicant is a corporation organized under Title 13.1 or comparable law of another state, and qualified to do business in Virginia;

2. That, if the corporation is a stock corporation, all principal stockholders have submitted to the jurisdiction of the Virginia courts and all nonresident principal stockholders have designated the Executive Secretary of the Commission as their agent for process, and further, that an application shall also contain information as required by § 59.1-377;

3. That the applicant's articles of incorporation provide that the corporation may, on vote of a majority of the stockholders or members, purchase at fair market value the entire membership interest of any stockholder, or require the resignation of any member, who is or becomes unqualified for such position under § 59.1-379;

4. That the applicant would be qualified for a license to own such horse racetrack or satellite facility under the provisions of §§ 59.1-378 and 59.1-379;

5. That the applicant has made provisions satisfactory to the Commission for the detection and prosecution of any illegal, corrupt or fraudulent act, practice or conduct in connection with any race meeting or pari-mutuel wagering, that the applicant has made provision for membership in the Thoroughbred Racing Association or other equivalent applicable association, and that the applicant shall utilize the services of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau or any other protective agency acceptable to the Virginia Racing Commission;

6. That the applicant has met the criteria established by the Commission for the granting of an operator's license.

1988, c. 855; 1991, c. 591; 1992, c. 820.

§ 59.1-383. Duration, form of operator's license; bond.

A license issued under § 59.1-382 shall be for a period of twenty years from the date of issuance, but shall be reviewed annually. The Commission may, as it deems appropriate, change at the beginning of any year the dates on which the licensee is authorized to conduct a race meeting or pari-mutuel wagering. An applicant for renewal of a license may omit any information which in the opinion of the Commission is already available to it. The Commission shall establish criteria and procedures for license renewal.

Any license issued under § 59.1-382 shall designate on its face the type or types of horse racing or pari-mutuel wagering for which it is issued, the location of the track or satellite facility where such meeting or wagering is to be conducted, the period during which such license is in effect and such other information as the Commission deems proper.

The Commission shall require a bond with surety acceptable to it, and in an amount determined by it to be sufficient to cover any indebtedness incurred by such licensee during the days allotted for racing.

1988, c. 855; 1991, c. 591; 1992, c. 820.

§ 59.1-384. Denial of license final.

The denial of an owner's or operator's license by the Commission shall be final unless appealed under § 59.1-373.

1988, c. 855.

§ 59.1-385. Suspension or revocation of license.

A. After a hearing with fifteen days' notice the Commission may suspend or revoke any license, or fine the holder thereof a sum not to exceed $100,000, in any case where it has reason to believe that any provision of this chapter, or any regulation or condition of the Commission, has not been complied with or has been violated. The Commission may revoke a license if it finds that facts not known by it at the time it considered the application indicate that such license should not have been issued.

B. The Commission shall revoke any license issued under § 59.1-382 for the operation of a satellite facility if the licensee, within one year of issuance of the satellite facility license, fails to conduct live racing at a racetrack licensed pursuant to § 59.1-382 or fails to conduct, without the permission of the Commission, the live racing days assigned to the licensee by the Commission.

C. The Commission, at a meeting at which a quorum of the members is present, may summarily suspend any license for a period of not more than ninety days pending a hearing and final determination by the Commission if the Commission determines that emergency action is required to protect the public health, safety and welfare including, but not limited to, revenues due the Commonwealth, localities and the horsemen's purse account. The Commission shall (i) schedule a hearing within fourteen business days after the license is summarily suspended and (ii) notify the licensee not less than five business days before the hearing of the date, time, and place of the hearing.

D. Deliberations of the Commission hereunder shall be conducted pursuant to the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.). If any such license is suspended or revoked, the Commission shall state its reasons for doing so, which shall be entered of record. Such action shall be final unless appealed in accordance with § 59.1-373. Suspension or revocation of a license by the Commission for any violation shall not preclude criminal liability for such violation.

1988, c. 855; 1991, c. 591; 1995, cc. 212, 275; 2000, c. 1031.

§ 59.1-386. Acquisition of interest in licensee.

A. The Commission shall require any person desiring to become a partner, member or principal stockholder of any licensee to apply to the Commission for approval thereof and may demand such information of the applicant as it finds necessary. The Commission shall consider such application forthwith and shall approve or deny the application within 60 days of receipt. The Commission shall approve an application that meets the criteria set forth in this chapter. The Commission shall deny an application if in its judgment the acquisition by the applicant would be detrimental to the public interest or to the honesty, integrity, and reputation of racing. The Commission shall approve an application to acquire actual control of a licensee only if it finds that the applicant meets the criteria set forth in subsection B.

B. If an applicant proposes to acquire actual control of a licensee, such person shall, pursuant to subsection A, submit to the Commission (i) its proposal for the future operation of any existing or planned racetrack, or satellite facility owned or operated by the licensee, (ii) such additional information as it desires, and (iii) such information as may be required by the Commission to assure the Commission that the licensee, under the actual control of such person, will have the experience, expertise, financial responsibility and commitment to comply with (a) the provisions of this chapter, (b) Commission regulations and orders, (c) the requirements for the continued operation of the licensee pursuant to the terms and conditions in effect on the date of the application of all licenses held by the licensee, (d) any existing contract with a recognized majority horseman's group, and (e) any proposal submitted to the Commission by such person. The provisions of this subsection shall apply regardless of whether the control acquired is direct or indirect or whether its acquisition is accomplished individually or in concert with others.

C. Any such acquisition of control without prior approval of the Commission shall be voidable by the Commission and, in such instance, the Commission may revoke any license it has issued to such licensee, order compliance with this section, or take such other action as may be appropriate within the authority of the Commission.

1988, c. 855; 2003, c. 705.