Colonial Downs files signatures for Dumfries ballot question

Live horse racing starts Thursday in New Kent County. (Courtesy Colonial Downs)

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Before Colonial Downs can open a satellite gaming facility in Dumfries where attendees can bet on historical horse races, the company needs approval from Dumfries voters.

Colonial Downs is requesting a voter referendum to be placed on the ballot in the town for Tuesday, Nov. 5. If approved, the referendum would allow the company to open a betting facility in accordance with state law.

The company turned in on Wednesday a petition of signatures gathered from Dumfries voters, according to the Prince William County Office of Elections and confirmed by a company spokesman.

The elections office staff are certifying the signatures Thursday, said Matthew Wilson, senior assistant deputy registrar with the elections office. If the office certifies the petition, county staff will forward the petition to the Prince William County Circuit Court to be placed on the ballot.

Signatures from at least 5% of qualified voters was required for certification, or around 137 of the town’s 2,724 registered voters.

Last year, the Virginia General Assembly approved the introduction of Historical Horse Racing machines, slot-like units for betting on pre-recorded races.

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 company also opened a Rosie’s with 700 HHR machines in Richmond in June, and a Rosie’s is under construction in Hampton. The sites include simulcast horse racing, with a restaurant, bar and gift shop.

The locality where a gaming facility is located receives 0.5% of all wagering that is made, said Mark Hubbard, spokesperson for Colonial Downs. At the New Kent County site, that meant more than $1.2 million submitted to the county from April 1 through July 28, said Larry Clark, New Kent County’s assistant director of financial services.

Colonial Downs also is holding its first day of live racing at Colonial Downs in New Kent County on Thursday, Aug. 8.

“We are extremely pleased with the overwhelming support we have received from Dumfries voters during the signature collection process,” Hubbard said. “We look forward to sharing more about our plans to create jobs, generate tax revenues and bring a vibrant new form of entertainment to the community as we approach election day.”

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