Originally published in The Commons issue #241 (Wednesday, February 12, 2014). This story appeared on page C2.
Despite numerous snags and delays, longtime Hinsdale resident and entrepreneur William Faucher is hopeful that his effort to open an off-track betting (OTB) facility on Route 119 will cross the finish line.
Faucher said he was planning a soft opening in January, but that his filing for a OTB license with the state was delayed.
“It’s in the attorney general’s office, and it is in their hands to decide whether we get the license,” Faucher said late January. “They’ve got 90 days to make a decision, and I don’t know if they’re going to use the full 90 days to do so.”
This means he won’t be able to open until around April 1, but he said if the state decides quickly, he’ll get started sooner.
“We had hoped to start off without any fanfare while we make sure we’ve got things sorted out. Now, I’m planning for a grand opening and festivities on Kentucky Derby weekend,” Faucher said.
The 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., is set for Saturday, May 3.
Faucher has spent more than 40 years in harness racing as an owner, trainer, driver, and official, including 15 years as a United States Trotting Association director and Driver-Trainer Committee chairman.
He was an accomplished driver-trainer during Hinsdale Raceway’s heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. The track ceased live harness racing in 1985, closed altogether in 2008, and has recently been demolished. In 1993, Faucher was inducted into the New England Harness Writers Hall of Fame.
The new, 2,800 square-foot OTB parlor is situated on Route 119 one-half mile east of the former track and Walmart. It is projected to be open six days a week once a regular schedule is established as dictated by daily attendance.
Faucher first attempted to construct a facility adjacent to the race track, but ran into deed restrictions over the use of the property.
Hinsdale OTB will be the third off-track betting location in New Hampshire, joining — but not affiliated with — Rockingham Park in Salem, and Seabrook Park, which had greyhound racing, as did Hinsdale Raceway. It will have five terminals connected to live satellite feeds on the Roberts Communications Network.
United Tote, a wholly owned subsidiary of Churchill Downs, rents the equipment used to place wagers electronically.
“We are going to focus on harness racing with some thoroughbred racing, which will eventually be expanded,” Faucher said. “You have to make arrangements with each track to get all wired in. At first we’ll be working with Yonkers, The Meadowlands, Saratoga Harness, Harrah’s Chester Downs (in Pennsylvania), Pocono Downs, Dover Downs, Pompano Park, and Suffolk Downs.”
Patrons will be able to wager at the OTB or create an account that accommodates phone wagering.
“We’ll always have a teller, possibly two on site,” Faucher said. “When you make a wager at Yonkers, for example, it will immediately be reflected on their tote board. If you were the only person to place a bet, your wager would be shown at the track.”
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