Four Virginia Localities OK Off-Track Betting

Racing officials in Virginia were pleased to find out on Tuesday night that voters in three localities approved referenda to allow the expansion of off-track betting. They were waiting to find out the results for a fourth locality in northern Virginia.

In 1997, the last year referenda were sought in multiple localities in Virginia, three off-track measures were soundly defeated in the cities of Fredericksburg, Roanoke and Martinsville.

Voters approved referenda in Scott County (near Bristol), Henry County (near Martinsville) and Westmoreland County (Northern Neck). The referendum for Greene County (near Charlottesville) was initially reported as being approved, but those figure were incorrect and the initiative was actually rejected there.

Colonial Downs currently operates six off track betting parlors in Virginia. An off-track betting center that was approved in Vinton (near Roanoke) last fall opened in September. Under state law the Virginia Racing Commission may license up to ten off-track betting centers.

Approval of the five referenda are expected to allow Colonial Downs to invest $10 million to generate $200 million in handle per year, creating 300 jobs and $1.15 million in annual local tax revenue.

Late Tuesday evening, Chris Bridge, campaign director for Colonial Downs, stated that the results were reflective of the initial polling performed and that the approvals were a "tremendous demonstration" of the partnership between Colonial Downs, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and the Virginia HBPA.