Tag Archives: Pari-mutuel Wagering


In spite of assertions by Virginia Thoroughbred Association President Wayne Chatfield-Taylor that the breeders’ group would “become more active” in the General Assembly, only the Virginia Gold Cup Association is seeking legislative changes to Virginia’s pari-mutuel laws which would allow the NSA sanctioned meet to simulcast during the live Virginia Gold Cup meet held each May.

While neither the VTA nor the VA HBPA are proposing legislation in the current on-going session, both groups support SB 398 and HB 402 which will allow the Gold Cup to simulcast the Kentucky Derby on that one day each year.  The VA HBPA is embroiled in an on-going controversy regarding the purse account contract with Colonial Downs and the number of live racing days available this summer.

While Chatfield-Taylor has historically not been supportive of the VTA’s political activities and Virginia Equine Political Action Committee’s fundraising attempts to support various Senators and Delegates either sympathetic to or openly supportive of the industry’s agenda, the organization, along with the VA HBPA, has long advocated legislative changes that would promote meaningful growth of handle, purses and Virginia Breeders Fund revenue.  Those efforts, combined with those of Colonial Downs, have been thwarted recently by the Speaker of the House, William Howell who opposes what he calls “the expansion of gambling.”

At the same time, Chatfield-Taylor has historically openly complained about “playing the political game” and been unwilling to support campaign contributions to various candidates notably those who are members of the Republican Party.  Both Senator Jill Vogel (patron of SB 398) and Delegate Michael Webert (patron of HB 402) are Republicans. As of June of 2013, he had not participated in industry meetings with the key decision makers in the General Assembly including Speaker Howell.

None of the stakeholder organizations or their lobbyists have been successful in explaining to Howell and other anti-gambling Republicans that the Internet, along with Virginia’s law allowing telephone and internet wagering, have already expanded pari-mutuel wagering exponentially. Is spite of the illogical nature of Howell’s position, he and many others condemn any legislation friendly to pari-mutuel wagering no matter the positive impact on horse breeding, agriculture and open space issues.

While SB 398/HB 402 is designed to help fund the Gold Cup’s purses, it will ultimately have minimal long-term impact on racing in the Commonwealth and almost no impact on breeding in the state.

SB 398 was amended on the floor to restrict the simulcasting to only the Kentucky Derby and further limited in scope the number of days and licenses the VRC may approve for such simulcasting.  The changes minimizes the competition with Colonial Downs and subsequently likely to limit the overall impact to the Virginia Gold Cup’s Spring race.  As written and amended, the International Gold Cup will still be able to conduct wagering on its live product but not on simulcasts from other foreign or domestic tracks.

Senator Jill Vogel proposed Senate Bill 398 which would amend the Code of Virginia’s section regarding simulcasting and steeplechase racing.  At the request of Colonial Downs, the bill was amended last week to narrow down the scope of the legal activities as language was inserted saying “(ii) simulcast horse racing that is limited to the transmission from Churchill Downs of the Kentucky Derby horse race.”  The language also limits the eligible meet to one not lasting more than 14 days and it limits the Virginia Racing Commission to issuing only 12 such licenses.

Last week, the Senate passed the bill 30-10 and earlier today the House of Delegates passed the bill by a vote of 81-17.

While the Gold Cup conducted pari-mutuel racing last spring and fall at their Virginia and International Gold Cup meets, handle was limited due to technological issues the association is working hard to solve.  The end-goal for these two race meets is to generate enough handle to supplement purses now provided by a dwindling pool of sponsors who are only willing to designate limited dollars to such events no matter the demographic of the audience.  The Gold Cup crowd is both young and affluent – two things critical to potential sponsors – but raising purse dollars has become more difficult as a natural impact of a slowly recovering economy.

Last years, VTA and VA HBPA representatives met with Gold Cup executives and consultants to discuss various improvements to the Virginia-bred component of their racing product and a similar meeting was held with several racing commissioners to discuss legislative changes required for simulcasting America’s most popular horse race as a natural product to boost handle and subsequently purses at the Spring race.

Crowd estimates for the Virginia Gold Cup range to 50,000 and the handle for a Kentucky Derby simulcast could be substantial based on a per capita wager of $5 per person ($250,000) or $10 per person ($500,000).  By statute the Gold Cup would receive approximately 3 to 5% of such wagers depending on the fee charged by Churchill Downs for the simulcast signal.

On a related note, Del. Ed Scott has sponsored House Bill 1074 which creates a Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry and moves the Virginia Racing Commission from the Department of Commerce and Trade over to Agriculture and Forestry. The change is not expected to have a short term impact on handle, but should help the agency regulate the industry more effectively as a component of the agriculture industry.

Visits: 222


(Press Release) There were mixed signals during the month of January in the racing economic indicators. As compared with January 2013, both purses and racing dates increased. However, wagered showed a drop over the previous year.

Wagering in the U.S. was down 0.23% in 2014 as compared with the same month last year.

Purses for January 2014 showed an increase, up 1.35% as compared with 2013.

Even with inclement weather causing havoc along the east coast, racing days for the month were actually up, 4.45% as compared with January 2013.


January 2014

January 2013

% Change

Wagering on U.S. Races*




U.S. Purses




U.S. Race Days




* Includes worldwide commingled wagering on U.S. races.

Visits: 70


(FauquierNow.com) Saturday’s steeplechase races at Great Meadow will offer pari-mutuel betting in the palms of spectators’ hands.

For the first time, bettors will use smartphones and tablets to wager on horses in six races at the 76th running of the International Gold Cup.

The Virginia Gold Cup races in May made history, with the debut of legalized gambling at Great Meadow. But, the process moved slowly, as betters lined up for their turns at 20 electronic kiosks.

It took the average bettor about five minutes per wager, according to Gold Cup Executive Director Diane Jones.

Still, spectators stayed in line and wagered a total of $81,000.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Mrs. Jones said last week. She and others hoped the “handle” would hit $50,000 on May 4.

Early in the year, they planned to have a wireless network and betting via mobile devices. But, the logistical challenges — including a change in the county zoning ordinance — took more time.

Race officials have invested about $80,000 in the secure Wi-Fi network at Great Meadow, which has antenna on the public address system speaker poles, Gold Cup association Chairman William H. Allison explained.

The use of mobile devices should make wagering on the ponies easier and faster Saturday.

To use the system, a bettor must buy a card encoded with a personal identification number and preloaded with $20, $50 or $100.

Bettors may buy cards — with cash only — from roving sales representatives at Great Meadow or, in advance, at the Gold Cup office, which accepts credit cards. (Great Meadow also will have ATMS.)

Logging on to the Gold Cup network at Great Meadow, a bettor will enter his or her PIN to begin the process. Then, the bettor picks the race, the horse(s), the wager and the type of bet.

The system automatically will deduct wagers from the bettor’s account and credit winnings to it. Bettors may claim winnings or unused funds on their cards at Great Meadow kiosks or at the Gold Cup office for up to one year.

But, one must present his or her card to collect.

“We in the steeplechase racing world think this is going to help the sport grow,” Dr. Allison said.

If pari-mutuel at Great Meadow grows, he envisions larger pursues, with more money available to owners of Virginia-bred horses.

Horse racing everywhere has struggled with changing demographics, the recession and competition from casinos and lotteries.

Racing supports hope technology can help turn the tide.

“Gold Cup has taken the first step,” said veteran horseman Mike Pearson, who serves as a consultant to the association. “It has made Virginia breds preferred (for entry slots) in all races.”

Making more prize money available to Virginia horses could help revive the state’s breeding industry, Mr. Pearson said.

But, it will take a methodical process, with betting from mobile devices as an important development.

“You can’t imagine how much work has gone into this,” Dr. Allison said.

Because the Virginia Gold Cup and International Gold Cup have come under Virginia Racing Commission purview, security and protocol around the course have tightened considerably. Only those with appropriate credentials have access to the jockey, paddock and stable, for example.

The commission requires the measures to ensure nobody could unduly influence the outcome of a race.

Saturday’s races will use FastBet Mobile, a platform developed by United Tote, a pari-mutuel contractor affiliated with Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. The system will update odds in real time, as bets get placed.

The secure network at Great Meadow allows access only to FastBet. Spectators won’t be able to use the network for other browsing.

Any Wi-Fi enabled device — smartphones, tablets and laptops — will work with the system.

United Tote also will have five tents with kiosks at Saturday’s races for those who want to wager that way. Those tents also will provide payouts for those who want to cash in their cards.

Visits: 102

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