Day At The Track

Betting machines key to sale

03:13 PM 15 Feb 2018 NZDT
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Colonial Downs, harness racing
Colonial Downs

Virginia’s House of Delegates voted 79-21 late Tuesday to advance a bill to allow “historical racing” machines, a step required by a potential buyer of the long-shuttered Colonial Downs racetrack in New Kent County.

The bill, which many see as integral to reviving Virginia's racing industry, now moves to the Senate.

The bill would add gaming machines involving pre-recorded races, which Chicago-based Revolutionary Racing proposes to use at Colonial to bring in more revenue in addition to on-track and off-track wagering.

Historical racing machines use old races, horses and jockeys whose identities remain secret until after a bet is placed and the videotape starts.

Industry representatives say historical racing is a game of skill as much as pari-mutuel wagering at the racetrack because actual pre-race odds are shown along with some past performance stats.

“This bill is Virginia’s opportunity to revitalize and restart an industry that is about as old as the commonwealth itself,” bill sponsor Del. Michael Webert, R-Fauquier, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “The biggest winner will be Virginia.”

"New money coming to the Virginia Equine Association from historical racing will go to support member groups -- the Virginia Gold Cup, harness racing, the breeders, flat racing, and other racing industry events and programs such as the local steeplechase races and point-to-points," explained VEA executive director Jeb Hannum. "We appreciate Mike Weber's longstanding support of the racing industry.

"Reopening Colonial Downs will benefit the entire equine industry and all agricultural-related businesses."

Historical racing wager "take-out" is the same as other pari-mutuel wagers, with percentages retained for various Virginia equine entities such as the Virginia Breeders Fund, Morven Park horse hospital, Virginia Horse Industry Board and the Virginia Horse Center in addition to paying out winning bets.

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