A dispute between Colonial Downs and Virginia Horsemen Association has shut down thoroughbred racing and betting in the Commonwealth. As a result, there is no wagering at any of Virginia’s off-track betting parlors.
Viewers can still watch out-of-state races at the parlors, but can only bet online. Colonial Downs says it has lost $1.5 million in off-track betting revenues because of the shutdown.
While some off-track betting sites have been closed, local parlors are staying open. They’re telling everyone to come on by, and don’t believe the dispute will affect business. They’re hoping the online betting process won’t scare away many of their older customers who are used to betting in person.
As California Chrome looks to make history by being the first horse in 36 years to win the Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown, off-track betting parlors across the state are hoping to see a big turnout for the race, even though betting was closed on thoroughbred racing because of a dispute between the Virginia Horsemen Association and Colonial Downs.
Jeffrey Wingrove with Colonial Downs says they’ll be open and people can still bet online or using one of their EZ Pay kiosks. There was a concern that online betting would be a turnoff for the industry’s predominantly older fans who are used to placing bets in person with a teller.
“I actually believe that we’re going to have a huge crowd,” Wingrove said. “We have had this going on since before the Kentucky Derby, so now we have acclimated a lot of people.”
Wingrove says he believes because there’s a chance for history to be made, the crowds will still be big.
“It’s the atmosphere—there’s nothing like it; there really isn’t,” he said. “As they turn for home, there will be a feeling: goosebumps and that kind of stuff.”
Wingrove says Saturday’s race will not only bring out older fans, but new ones, too.
“They’ll get to see what I consider the greatest two minutes in sports,” he said. “This place goes crazy.”
At the center of this dispute is the thoroughbred racing schedule; Colonial Downs wants to host fewer races and the Virginia Horsemen Association wants more.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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