Off track betting returns to Hampton Roads

After a couple year hiatus off track betting will be back in Hampton Roads at Buckets Bar and Grill in Chesapeake.

CHESAPEAKE - CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) -- Down the stretch they come, if you like to bet on horse racing you’ll soon be able to put down money in Chesapeake.

This week city council voted to approve the return of off track betting. Buckets Bar and Grill will become the only spot in Hampton Roads where you’ll be able to legally place a bet on a thoroughbred.

“We felt comfortable that we could come up with a good concept, marry a sports bar and an OTB together,” said Buckets owner Ed Manning.

Manning is in the process of more than doubling Buckets in size from 3,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet to make room for off track betting. They plan to have a maximum of 10 horse races, from across the country, broadcast at one time. Visitors will be able to place their bets, watch the race and receive their earning all in one place.

Manning has been working with the Virginia Racing Commission for months making sure the operation gets out of the gates smoothly.

“They have their own employees that come in, they are all licensed by the state, we provide the food and beverages they provide the whole gambling part of it,” said Manning. “They were up and running for a long time so we aren’t blazing a new trail we’re just bringing it back.”

Chesapeake had two off track betting locations in the past but when Colonial Downs closed in 2014 so did the OTBs. Currently there are only two in the state, both in Richmond.

“It wasn’t because they weren’t successful or had any kind of issues it was really a contractual dispute,” said Manning.

Now that off track betting is back in Hampton Roads Manning plans to show off Virginia’s rich horse racing history throughout the bar.

“We have a good breeding history, Secretariat was breed in Virginia, a lot of Virginia bred horses have done really well,” said Manning.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting no one from the public spoke out against off track betting, but still Manning understands sometimes there is a negative stigma that comes along with gambling and he plans to make sure it’s a safe, professional, fun operation.

“I’ve been in this city all my life, we have children that go to these schools, so nobody cares more about what goes on in the city of Chesapeake than residents like myself and my wife,” said Manning.

Buckets plans to open up the off track betting area of the bar by the end of the year.

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