The Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA) took a big step toward rebuilding the Commonwealth’s racing industry when it opened its first Off Track Betting (OTB) Center November 2nd in Richmond’s west end, inside Breakers Sports Grille at 9127 West Broad Street. The site is conveniently located in a heavily traveled retail corridor at the TJ Maxx Shopping Center between Parham and Gaskins Road.
After one month of operation, betting handle is coming in well above projections. Total handle for November was $1,067,087, which did include the popular Breeders’ Cup weekend. Instead of interest decreasing after thoroughbred racing’s championships were over, several daily handle figures since have actually exceeded those of the two “Cup” programs. And with a full slate of daily thoroughbred and harness simulcast signals available to wager, and high profile meets like Santa Anita, Gulfstream and Tampa Bay Downs about to begin, things should continue to roll along.
Not been to the OTB yet? Attendees can expect a lively social experience. Breakers is a sports bar that features 55 televisions that can show both sports or racing on any of them. There are both smoking and non-smoking areas, a full service restaurant and bar with daily specials and plenty of free parking. Racing fans can make bets via seven self betting terminals or at two manned teller stations. A program kiosk offers Equibase, Brisnet and Daily Racing Form past performance information. The OTB is open seven days per week, from 12 Noon – 11 PM and a simulcast schedule is available at virginiahorseracing.com under the “Bet” tab.
The VEA will open a second OTB in January at a new downtown Richmond restaurant called Ponies & Pints. The venue, formerly called Tiki Bob’s Cantina, is located in the vibrant Shockoe Bottom area at 110 N. 18th Street. There will be a horseplayers exclusive room with betting terminals and numerous TV’s, while other sections in the 5500 square foot building will feature a combination of sports and horse races on TV. An eclectic selection of 60 craft beers will be available on tap to complement a full menu. Ponies & Pints is non-smoking, but there is a fenced in, outdoor patio for smokers that features a bar, televisions and a self bet terminal. The restaurant has a 26 car parking lot and there is free street parking in the neighborhood. Several $3 parking lots are also located within a block or two.
Heading further into 2017 and beyond, the VEA anticipates opening additional OTBs in areas like Chesapeake, Hampton and possibly southwest Virginia. As the growth of OTBs continues, all aspects of the native racing industry will benefit including horsemen’s purse accounts, breeding programs, and the VEA’s quest to for continued growth.