The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1996, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Tuesday, February 13, 1996             TAG: 9602130238
SECTION: LOCAL                    PAGE: B7   EDITION: FINAL 
DATELINE: CHESAPEAKE                         LENGTH: Medium:   55 lines


After repeated delays, the state's first horse race betting parlor may open this week.

John A. Maurer, manager of the Colonial Downs satellite wagering facility on South Military Highway in the Deep Creek section of the city, said he hopes the facility may be open for business Thursday or Friday.

Construction on the building, a gutted supermarket, is near completion, Maurer said.

``Inside, we're basically ready to open,'' he said. ``We're just waiting for the go-ahead from the city.''

The project has been beleaguered by bad weather, troubles with city inspections and opposition by state-level politicians. Colonial Downs, the group that has been given licenses to open six such parlors across the state to accompany a horse racetrack in New Kent County, originally was scheduled to open the Chesapeake site in January.

Two snowstorms, one last month and one last week, set back renovations.

``The weather had us all balled up there,'' Maurer said.

City inspectors, he said, also have found minor faults with the renovations and have not yet issued an occupancy permit for the building. Until he gets an occupancy permit, Maurer cannot get a health certificate to serve food.

Last month, state Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, tried to block the parlor's opening until Colonial Downs met a deadline for building a horse track in New Kent County. Stolle said he feared that if it was allowed to open the profitable parlors, the group might renege on its agreement to build the expensive and less-profitable track.

Stolle said he and other legislators did not want gambling parlors in Virginia unless there also was a racetrack to promote Virginia's horse industry.

Stolle and other legislators had agreed to allow the Chesapeake parlor and one other in Richmond to open if Colonial Downs earmarks all of the parlors' profits for construction of the track or for prizes for future horse races at the track.

Patrons of the Chesapeake parlor will be able to watch and place bets on live horse races from across the country. The parlor will be like a sports bar and restaurant with food, drinks and more than 200 television sets. ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MORT FRYMAN/The Virginian-Pilot

The Colonial Downs horse race betting parlor on South Military

Highway in Chesapeake has more than 200 television screens. Patrons

can watch and bet on live horse races from across the country.