Off-Track Betting Set to Begin at Fair

Times Staff Writer

Off-track betting at the Ventura County Fairgrounds is scheduled to begin Nov. 18, coinciding with Hollywood Park’s fall meeting, fair and racing officials have announced.

The horse races will be simulcast live on television monitors at the fairground’s Gem and Mineral Building, and broadcasts of races from all of Southern California’s race tracks will continue year-round, officials said.

Details of the plan were explained Monday at a public meeting at the fairgrounds attended by about 20 people.

No opposition was registered.


Fair Manager Jeremy Ferris said off-track betting will be a financial boon for the fair, providing a steady income that is not dependent on weather.

The fair will receive 2% of the total amount wagered. The City of Ventura will receive one-third of a percent of the total.

Racing officials would not disclose projected revenue, but said off-track betting in Santa Barbara brings in $60,000 daily.

“It’s like tossing a drowning man a life preserver,” Ferris said. “It enables us to know that the fair is going to be here.”


Off-track betting has been permitted in the state for two years, and is in operation at 10 locations, said Richard Cain, executive director of the California Authority of Racing Fairs.

The way was cleared for off-track betting in Ventura when legislation permitting wagering at non-racing fairgrounds was signed by Gov. George Deukmejian last week.

Ferris said the fair’s board of directors is expected to approve off-track betting at its Oct. 19 meeting.

The plan must then receive endorsement from the state Department of Food and Agriculture’s division of fairs and expositions, as well as the California Horse Racing Board, Ferris said.