Virginia’s HHR Numbers Set Single-Month Record in October

Written By Adam Hensley on December 19, 2022
HHR Numbers October 2022

October’s HHR numbers are in, and once again, historical horse racing remains popular in Virginia.

So much so that Virginians wagered a record total in a single month.

According to the latest Virginia Historical Horse Racing Commission Report, Virginians wagered a whopping $366.1 million on HHR machines for the month of October — a new single-month record for the state.

Historical horse racing — HHRs — are slot machine-like games in which bettors wager on the outcome of thousands of previous horse races. There’s no data available to bettors, such as:

  • the specific race
  • where it occurred or
  • which jockeys participated, giving it a truly random outcome.

But it remains a popular option within Virginia’s growing gambling industry.

October’s HHR handle resulted in almost $4.6 million in total commissions among the seven locations.

Richmond boasted the biggest HHR handle for October, accounting for $124.8 million. Hampton had the second-highest handle with $103 million. Colonial Downs followed at third with a handle of $50.8 million.

October’s record HHR numbers show nearly a $30 million jump in handle

In September, Virginians wagered close to $338 million on HHRs. October’s numbers signal a $28.2 million uptick month-to-month. It also snapped a two month decline in HHR handle. Virginia’s HHR machine handle rose to $353 million in July before decreasing the next two months.

October’s handle is the highest of any single month this calendar year, with July’s number standing as the second-highest total so far.

Richmond, which owns the top handle for a single area in Virginia for October, also led in the same category the previous month. In September, Richmond’s handle sat at more than $116.1 million. That number rose by nearly $8 million month-to-month.

Virginia’s HHR handle rose by nearly $20 million year to year

  • In 2019, the first year of legal HHR wagering, Virginians gambled more than $139.6 million on HHR machines in October.
  • The following year, in October 2020, the HHR handle came out to about $199.4 million.
  • In October 2021, Virginia bettors earned almost $348 million on HHR machines.

HHR numbers display tangible growth

Forget month-to-month growth – Virginia’s HHR numbers so far in 2022 show that the industry continues to expand year to year.

So far in 2022, only two months – January and February – resulted in an HHR handle of less than $331 million. In 2021, all but one month (October) finished with a handle less than that $331 million mark.

January’s 2022 single-month low of $285.6 million still ranks higher in terms of handle than half of 2021’s single month totals.

Where can I use HHRs in Virginia?

If you’re in Virginia and looking to wager on HHRs, you can do so in:

  • Collinsville
  • Colonial Downs
  • Dumfries
  • Hampton
  • Richmond and
  • Vinton.

Originally, when Virginia first legalized the industry, the only place residents could wager was at Colonial Downs in 2019.

There are two new HHR facilities currently under construction, though. Once the new locations open to the public, there will be roughly 4,000 terminals for Virginians to bet with.

Could changes be coming to Virginia’s HHR industry?

It’s possible.

The Virginia Racing Commission oversees the HHR industry, but there’s a growing sense of urgency for more staffing and experience. Especially with the industry’s booming record numbers, its becoming more of a pressing matter.

Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission’s latest report pleaded for a change in oversight. According to the JLARC, the “VRC has not taken actions necessary to effectively regulate large-scale commercial gaming, which HHR wagering has become.”

Over the past four years, HHRs have given the Virginia gambling industry a 54% boost, according to the JLARC report.

Photo by Ed Reinke / AP File Photo
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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

View all posts by Adam Hensley