City council to consider allowing off-track betting at Chesapeake bar

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – The past could soon be the future in the City of Chesapeake, with the potential return of off-track betting on horse racing.

City council will vote in two weeks whether to approve a proposal for Buckets Bar and Grill to get a permit for satellite wagering, better known as OTB. Chesapeake had OTB for 18 years until 2014, with the closing of Colonial Downs in New Kent County.

“It’ll be different than any other place in Tidewater,” said Buckets owner Ed Manning.

He was already planning to expand his restaurant just north of the Great Bridge drawbridge. With the possibility of OTB, Manning wants to create a sensational but welcoming experience.

“We’ll have 20 TVs on one wall, double stacked 65 inch TVs and a video matrix.”

Buckets would feature racing from upwards of 25 different tracks from across the country on a weekend, mainly thoroughbreds, along with some harness and steeple chase.

If approved, Manning will continue to run the food and beverage, but the Virginia Racing Commission will control the wagering.  State employees from the Virginia Racing Commission will work directly at the venue and handle the betting.

“We are heavily regulated with the state,” Manning said. “They monitor daily what goes on in all of their facilities.”

Right now only two other locations, both in Richmond, have OTB. The Virginia Code allows for ten statewide.

Adam Perry of the Chesapeake Planning Commission opposes OTB, saying it’s inconsistent with the city’s image.

“It’s a great place to raise a family, we have good schools, and it’s a safe city. This does nothing to promote those three goals.”

In fact, Perry wants to create a buffer of 1000 feet from Buckets’ front door to the nearest residence, which means the proposal would never leave the gate.

But Manning was born and lives in Chesapeake with kids in local schools. He says OTB won’t hurt his hometown.

“People know us. And for the people that don’t know us, can kind of get a feel for what we’re doing, and know that this is not a fly-by-night thing.”

If Chesapeake City Council would approve OTB for Buckets, Manning says he could be online 45 days afterward.