Off-track betting could mean big economic boost for Henry County this weekend

Kentucky Derby is Saturday on NBC

HENRY COUNTY, Va. – Karen Henson said locals are excited to have off-track betting back, especially for the Kentucky Derby.

Henson is the manager of The Windmill Off Track Betting & Sports Grill in Collinsville, which opened in March.

"Everybody that's come in that used to go to the other site are ecstatic that we're back, that horse racing's back," she said. "They loved it. They loved betting on the horses, and we're all thrilled to have it back in Henry County."

The other site Henson mentioned was Colonial Downs, which closed in 2014.

Henson said people place a wide range of bets.

"The basic minimum bet (is) usually around $2 and your return is always based on the odds of the horse when it goes out of the gate," Henson explained.

Gambling can be addicting though.

Nationally certified gambling counselor Joel Elston said most people can gamble without any problems, but there are some signs that someone may need some help.

"Needing to increase their bets or, particularly, chasing. The term 'chasing' means you lose money and you really feel a big urge to go and win back your loses. Or, using gambling as a way to get money to pay bills," Elston said.

He said the first thing people should consider is reaching out to Gamblers Anonymous and getting into the 12-step program.

"It operates on the 12-step principals as Alcoholics Anonymous do," Elston said.

Since there aren't as many people with gambling issues as there are with alcohol issues, he said there aren't as many Gamblers Anonymous groups meeting, especially in rural areas.

He encourages people to look at resources online or reach out to him and he will try to help get them in touch with someone local or point them in the right direction for help.

"Traditional horse racing used to be an incredibly popular form of gambling, but with all the other things available it doesn't hold the ranking that it used to," Elston said.

Henson expects hundreds of people to stop in Saturday to take part in the various festivities and, of course, to bet on the race.

"It's bragging rights a lot of times. Yes, there is money involved, but it's a great experience and it's great entertainment. You get to know fellow bettors. It's like a community inside a community," Henson said.

You can watch the Kentucky Derby on WSLS on Saturday. The race is scheduled to start at 6:46 p.m.