Pari-mutuel handle on horse racing in the Commonwealth surged over the $100 million mark in 2017 thanks to a 5.6% increase in Advance Deposit Wagering and the addition of two new Off Track Betting (OTB) Centers.
Of the four ADW — or on line betting — partners, TVG led the way with a handle of $37,543,768, an increase of 7.3% over 2016 figures. Twin Spires was next with $28,864,384 in handle, a 3.28% bump over the prior year. XPress Bet followed with $12,959,739, a 6.1% drop, while NYRA Bets, which just completed its first full year accepting wagers from Virginia horseplayers, handled $1,708,643. The four combined to handle $81,076,535, including over $5.5 million in December.
The three OTBs combined to handle $20,803,619. Breakers Sports Grille in Richmond’s west end led the way with $10,931,061, good for a daily average handle of $30,279. Ponies & Pints, located downtown in the Shockoe Bottom entertainment district, took in $8,215,369 in wagers, a $23,675 average, and Buckets Bar & Grill accepted $1,352,264 in horse race bets. Of the three, only Breakers operated the entire year. Ponies & Pints opened in mid-January while Buckets had a mid-November bow. In its first 1 1/2 months of business, Buckets averaged $32,196 in handle.
Virginia Gold Cup races at Great Meadow and harness races at Shenandoah Downs both added to the $101,880,154 total handle figure. $179,930 was bet on a combination of steeplechase and flat races overt two days at the Gold Cup, while $124,993 was handled in ten days of harness action at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds in Woodstock.