Colonial Downs Group to seek gaming site in Dumfries

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The entrance to a Colonial Downs Off Track Betting parlor in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, June 3, 2014. The state’s only race track and it's OTB parlors are prohibited by state law from accepting any wagers on thoroughbred racing until it comes to an agreement with horse owners and trainers about the number of racing days it will hold this year. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)(AP/Steve Helber)

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The company reopening Colonial Downs is seeking a satellite gaming facility in Dumfries, organizers announced Thursday.

Colonial Downs Group is requesting a voter referendum in town to allow the betting facility in accordance with state law, according to a news release.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to bring a major entertainment facility to Dumfries,” said local business owner Linda Wilkins after submitting the paperwork. “It will mean good paying jobs for our residents and more tax revenue for the town.”

Upon court approval of Thursday’s petition, Colonial Downs Group will coordinate a Dumfries signature drive. To place a referendum on the ballot, signatures from at least 5% of qualified voters must be submitted to the General Registrar for certification.

“I believe it will help put Dumfries on the map and make this a destination for folks from all across the region to come to have fun, play some games, have dinner and help our town grow,” Wilkins said.

Colonial Downs Group has explored potential sites for one of its Rosie’s locations in Dumfries. An announcement about a preferred site is expected to be made during the referendum campaign.

Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell, who represents Dumfries, is supportive of the project.

“Out-of-state gaming facilities have been funding their schools with Northern Virginians’ money for years and it’s about time we took steps to keep those dollars here,” Surovell said. “This facility would be a game-changer for Dumfries economic development.”

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly approved the introduction of Historical Horse Racing machines, slot-like units for betting on pre-recorded races that are featured at all Rosie’s locations.

Colonial Downs Group opened its first Rosie’s Gaming Emporium at Colonial Downs with 600 HHR machines in April and its second Rosie’s in Vinton with 150 machines in May. The next Rosie’s with 700 HHR machines will open in Richmond in June, and a Rosie’s is under construction in Hampton. The sites include simulcast horseracing, with a restaurant, bar and gift shop.

“Since we announced the re-opening of Colonial Downs in New Kent County and the revitalization of thoroughbred horse racing in Virginia, a number of communities have expressed interest in opening a Rosie’s to create jobs and tax revenue for their residents,” said Aaron Gomes, chief operating officer of Colonial Downs Group. “Dumfries is a vibrant and emerging community looking for the new kind of entertainment that Rosie’s delivers. We want to be located in Dumfries, and we’re excited to go out and share with voters what we’re about and what we do and let them decide if they’d like to be home to one of our facilities.”

Town of Dumfries Mayor Derrick Wood said while the town is not directly involved with the process right now, he is open to exploring all economic options for the town, including this idea.

“One of my campaign promises was to make Dumfries a destination place, so I think this will be a good way to expand our commercial base, but it’s something we have to explore,” said Wood.

The mayor is in the early stages of reviewing the idea, but said it could expand the town’s tax base and attract people to the town. Wood said if the petition receives enough signatures from town residents, then the idea will be put on the November ballot.

The first day of live racing at Colonial Downs in New Kent County will be Aug. 8.

“World class horse racing is returning to Virginia, and we could not be more excited. When new communities approve pari-mutuel gaming at facilities within their borders, it will lift up the horse industry statewide, ensure more races at Colonial Downs, and generate new jobs and revenue in these localities and all across Virginia,” said Debbie Easter, president of the Virginia Equine Alliance. “Our partnership with the Colonial Downs Group is a strong one, and we hope the voters of Dumfries will help this partnership to grow even further by voting yes for pari-mutuel wagering and gaming this November.”

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