Off track gambling comes to Norco

cowboy with horse

The equestrian-themed Californian city of Norco could soon see the opening of an off-track horse racing venue at a renovated restaurant.

According to reports in the local media, the Lake Elsinore-based group California Horse Racing and Sports has yet to obtain a state license, but has already gained city approvals, and renovations at the former Cowboy Joe’s restaurant slated to be the site of the new facility are nearly complete.

The California Horse Racing Board have said that the earliest that the group’s application could be considered is December 13, but if the state board issued a license at that point, the new facility, named the Derby Room could be ready for business a few days later.

Speaking about the potential for off-track betting in Norco, councilman Berwin Hanna, who has been at the forefront of efforts to bring such a venue to the city, said it would suit the location:

We’re Horsetown USA, so we might as well have it. It kind of fits our brand.”

Californian state law currently permits up to 45 off-track horse racing betting venues, with 15 allowed in each of the north, south and central regions. If the Norco facility gets the go-ahead, it will be the twelfth in the state.

Sports bar and restaurant

The renovation of the Derby Room is likely to cost around $500,000, and it is envisaged as more than a venue where people can bet on races at Santa Anita and Los Alamitos. The facility has been designed to be a sports bar and restaurant, with the gambling aspect an attraction to bring people into the restaurant, which is where the majority of the revenue is expected.

The Derby Room will feature 44 televisions, covering a wide range of sports, although initially only betting on US horse racing will be permitted. That could change, however, as a sports betting measure may appear on the ballot in Californian elections in 2020.

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