Nov. 15, 2005 – Less than one year into a 10-year franchise agreement TRAXCO, a subsidiary of Treasure Bay V.I. Corp., is shutting down all operations at Randall "Doc" James Racetrack.
Dennis Brow, TRAXCO's general manager, said at a press conference on Tuesday that TRAXCO had informed 15 of its 18 employees on Friday that they were laid off indefinitely.
He said that the company was losing $73,000 a month and had "run out of money."
He said that the company was not thinking about bankruptcy, but he did not see how it could proceed without gaming devices (slot machines) at the track. He said all major race tracks in the states were in the same dilemma. He said they can not survive unless they become what is referred to as "racinos." He said even Churchill Downs was having problems.
However, TRAXCO's effort to become a racino was dealt a harsh blow Monday night when the Senate sent a request for a variance by TRAXCO to allow the gaming machines back to committee.
Barbara Shattles, vice president of TRAXCO, Inc. said, "We were stunned"by the action.
She told the reporters gathered at the track that TRAXCO had been waiting for action from the Senate ever since July and any comments about this being a "last-minute" maneuver were misleading. She said TRAXCO's representatives thought at the beginning of the Senate session that the senators were going to grant the variance.
As far as laying off of the workers, she said, "We were not going to ask people to continue working when we did not have the money to pay them."
Senators have expressed the concern that the V.I. Casino Act was designed to promote resort development and if TRAXCO is allowed to have betting machines outside of a resort, resort developers will be discouraged from locating on St. Croix.
Sen. Juan Figueroa-Serville said the variance would "kill investor confidence" for proposed developments such as Williams and Punch.
Shattles said she was 100 percent in favor of the Williams and Punch project. She pointed out that Williams and Punch developer Chris Elliot had said at a recent Senate hearing that his resort would have different customers than the race track had.
She explained that she thought the resort component of the development was being supplied by Divi Bay which recently expanded, adding more rooms. Treasure Bay V.I. Corp owns the Divi Casino.
Shattles said the "brains" of the machines would be at the casino.
She added that bringing gaming machines to the track "would energize the economy of the island center."
The cutback means the Thanksgiving races have been canceled. Brow said the Christmas races are also in jeopardy. TRAXCO's franchise agreement with the V.I. government calls for TRAXCO to have 16 races a year. They have had 13 this year. Brow said that just so the purse is rolled over to the next race, TRAXCO won't be breaking the agreement.
Brow said he doesn't think it is over for TRAXCO, but for it to be a success it is going to take help from the Senate.
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