Virginia Commission Reviews OTB Parlor Application

The first steps of expanding handle in Virginia over the next five years were taken July 1 when the Virginia Racing Commission reviewed an application for a second off-track wagering center in Richmond.

The commission was not ready to approve the application but did endorse its contents pending a final review. Final approval of the application is likely to occur in mid-July. The new off-track betting parlor could be open as soon by late October.

Representatives of Colonial Downs estimate the new facility will generate $10 million of net new handle. Colonial currently operates an OTB facility north of the James River on West Broad Street in Richmond. The new racing center located south of the James River may generate $20 million annually.

Colonial Downs expects to see a transfer of $10 million in handle from the north Richmond center that opened in 1996. The "transferred" handle is expected to make up 50% of the handle in the south Richmond racing center.

The south Richmond racing center will create 45 jobs. The facility is estimated to provide an additional $150,000 annually in tax revenue to the city of Richmond, and generate $264,000 annually in state and pari-mutuel tax revenue.

Jim Wienberg, the attorney who represents Colonial, presented endorsements from the Richmond City Council for the south Richmond racing center that will include smoking and non-smoking sections and seating for up to 183 patrons.

Also on July 1, the racing commission adopted emergency regulations concerning account wagering. The commission determined that because the legislature has designated account wagering as a criminal activity, emergency regulations were necessary. Previously, account wagering was not regulated in Virginia.

In other matters, after the first 15 days of racing, wagering on live racing at Colonial was $18,148,714, up 7.7% from the same period last year. On July 1, racing was uncharacteristically pulled off the turf because of a sprinkler malfunction. Two track records were set on the dirt surface that was listed fast.