Horse Racing Bill Breezes To Victory In General Assembly

Mar 1, 2018

Horse racing in Virginia was once a thriving industry that employed thousands of people. These days it’s almost extinct. 

Lawmakers are about to bring it back, however.

It’s called historical horse racing. Players select horses based on statistics without knowing their names. Win, place or show. Then players watch the actual game unfold.

Republican Delegate Michael Webert introduced the bill in the House.  “I would say unless you have a supercomputer for a brain and understand the hundreds of thousands of races that have gone on across the country, there’s no way to really go 'This is Secretariat.'”

A Colonial Downs Off Track Betting parlor in Richmond in 2014. The state’s only race track and its OTB parlors have been closed for several years.
Credit (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Those historical horse racing machines would help sweeten the deal for reopening Colonial Downs track, the shuttered facility in New Kent County and its satellites across the region.

Democratic Senator Jennifer McClellan says many of her constituents lost their job when the track closed.  “As horse racing started to die out in Virginia, and Colonial Downs as the latest example of that, all the supporting industries like the horse farms and the jockeys, and all those other ancillary industries were hurt as well.”

The bill has already passed the House and the Senate, which means it’s on its way to the governor’s desk in the Executive Mansion.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.