How Virginians will be able to gamble on old horse races at Colonial Downs

NEW KENT – Fur coats, piles of cash, convertibles, yachts and diamond rings spun across the gambling machine’s screen. But the horses were optional.

The first shipments of historical horse racing terminals were scheduled to be delivered Monday at Colonial Downs, about a month before the track’s new owners hope to open the doors of their revamped, casino-esque facility in New Kent County.

To mark the occasion, Colonial Downs representatives held a demonstration showing how the machines the General Assembly legalized last year will work. The historical horse racing machines – a major step toward casino-style gambling in Virginia – will provide a critical new revenue stream to support the reopening of Colonial Downs and thoroughbred racing’s return to the track.

The plan was pitched as a way to revive horse racing, create hundreds of jobs and generate tax revenue for state and local governments. But the debate in the legislature focused largely on the return of horse racing, without delving deeply into the functionality of the gambling machines or their similarity to traditional slot machines.

According to an economic impact analysis circulated by Colonial Downs, the new iteration is projected to take in $203.7 million in revenue by 2022, with $161.9 million coming from historical horse racing.

The machines look and feel like traditional slot machines. But instead of using random numbers, they’re powered by an archive of horse races that have already been run, combining players’ money into pools under the same pari-mutuel wagering system used in live horse racing.

Monday’s game demo – just off a newly carpeted red floor lined with black bases awaiting the machines’ arrival – showed that players can pull up charts showing horse odds and jockey information and use it to carefully predict the horses’ finishing positions. Or they can just press a button over and over again and hope to get lucky.

At the New Kent Rosie’s, the minimum bet per spin will be 20 cents, company representatives said, but a “high-limit” room will allow up to $15 per spin. Winners’ payouts will depend on the size of the pools, they said, and could range from $1,000 to six-figure jackpots.

The company acknowledged most historical horse racing players would use the automatic bet feature, while more experienced horse racing fans could bet on live races or simulcast races from other tracks.

The machine used for the demo featured a game-show theme called “What’s Behind That Door?,” one of about 50 game themes Colonial Downs plans to use. Other themes listed on the website of Exacta Systems, the manufacturer providing the machines to Colonial Downs, include fairies, pirates, monkeys, angels, ninjas, turtles, leprechauns and conquistadors. Still, the games are based on past horse races, even if the machine has an entirely different cartoon theme.

The company has erected five billboards in Virginia to advertise the new enterprise, including one off Interstate 64 heading west out of Richmond.

Historic Horse Racing Continues to Crush It

historic horse racing machineBOYNTON BEACH, Fla., March, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Exacta Systems and Kentucky Downs once again shattered the single month historic horse racing handle record in February, with wagering in the 28-day month totaling $51.8 million. The previous record of $47.2 million was only one month old, having been set in January. This marks the third straight month that a new HHR (Historic Horse Racing) wagering record has been set at Kentucky Downs.

In addition to the record set at Kentucky Downs, Exacta set a one-month record by handling over $75 million in HHR wagers at its installations in Kentucky and Wyoming, up from its previous record of $68.6 million set last month.

“Despite the short month, Exacta and Kentucky Downs added over $4.5 million in pari-mutuel wagering handle when compared to January’s record numbers,” commented Exacta Systems President Jeremy Stein. “I am confident that with the introduction of Exacta Premium Game Titles with minimum jackpots of $100,000 at Kentucky Downs next month, the explosive growth of historic horse racing will continue. In January, Exacta went over $1 billion in total wagers handled since we first went live in 2015. We are on pace to do $1 billion in total wagers at our combined installations this year alone, which will continue generating millions in new revenue for purses, breeders incentive funds, racetrack operators and state general funds.”

For more information about the company and the Exacta historic horse racing system, visit www.exactasystems.com or the Exacta Systems Facebook page.