In a collaborative initiative to expand advance deposit account wagering, Colonial Downs has teamed up with Chevy's Restaurant and Night Club in Chesapeake, Va., to promote new wagering technology that could be the horse racing's equivalent to video poker and bar trivia.
With the installation of several new flat screen televisions supported by Dish Network and a self-serve kiosk that prints programs, patrons of Chevy's can readily open accounts by accessing the "red phone"--a hot line that connects interested potential participants to TVG without dialing. The legal means of wagering hasn't changed, but the access to the general public is more convenient.
"This is just an educational process," explains Jeanna Bouzek, vice president of OTB operation at Colonial Downs. "Many people who have come in have heard about illegal Internet betting offshore on sports and poker, and they don't realize horse racing doesn't fall in that category. It's account wagering. We aren't doing anything here that you can't do at your home or office."
The new initiative launched Aug. 28 has already seen results and high interest. TVG - along with XpressBet, Colonial Downs PhoneBet, and Ameritab - have been licensed by the Virginia Racing Commission to accept wagers on advance accounts.
"I've had a lot of interviews this week. People are interested," commented Jerry Edwards, who owns Chevy's. "We're up 20% on Mondays already with a very quiet opening. Three weeks ago, we weren't even opened in the daytime. It's coming around. It will be a slow but sure draw for us. It's a nice little hook besides offering food and beverages. It's entertainment."
The pre-packaged pilot program is new turf for both Colonial Downs and Chevy's.
"They have been great," Bouzek said of the new wagering partner. "They opened up the room where we put it in. They changed their menu and redesigned their tables to accommodate us. They now call the account wagering section of their restaurant 'The Jockey Club at Chevy's'."
According to Bouzek, Colonial approached Chevy's as a test location after the Virginia Racing Commission and Virginia Attorney General's office reviewed the concept. Chevy's was selected because it can be easily serviced along with its Chesapeake OTBs.
Colonial operates nine off-track betting establishments in Virginia, including two in Chesapeake. Current Virginia state law allows ten OTB's. If successful, other partnerships may be sought in the Northern Virginia and Virginia Piedmont, where off-track referenda have not been passed.
Considering initial positive response premature, Colonial wants more time to evaluate the long-term response and to fine-tune any future installations.
"Technology has gone out another step," said Bouzek. "Since we've started this, we've had many other sports bars and fraternal clubs contact us about opening an establishment like this for them. We are developing a strategic plan and trying to figure out how to exactly what model we should follow."