Law to allow 'historical horseracing' clears Virginia House Appropriations Committee

Feb 17, 2018 9:11 AM

An effort in Virginia to revive the shuttered Colonial Downs horseracing track near Richmond has resulted in proposed legislation to allow “historical horseracing” clearing the Virginia House Appropriations Committee by a 21-1 vote on Friday.

The bill would legalize historical racing wagering terminals, a slot machine-like device sometimes called “instant racing” that lets players wager on video-taped races that have already taken place. Historical racing revenues are adding a significant boost to purses in Kentucky, primarily at Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park.

The proposal could generate more discussion next week, when it reaches the House floor.

If approved, the gambling machines could be installed at Colonial Downs and the off-track betting parlors around the state. It’s hoped the revenue might make what was Virginia’s sole thoroughbred and standardbred operation more financially viable.

Colonial Downs has not offered thoroughbred racing since 2013, due to a dispute between track management and horsemen's groups. Standardbred racing, often called harness racing, ended the following year.