Rosie’s Gaming Emporium clears final hurdle for ballot initiative to open Manassas Park location

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner and republished with permission. Sign up for’s free email subscription today.

This article was republished with permission from WTOP’s news partner Sign up for’s free email subscription today.

The interior of the Rosie's Gaming Emporium in Dumfries.(Courtesy InsideNoVa)

A ballot initiative to bring a Rosie’s Gaming Emporium to Manassas Park cleared its final hurdle Friday.

A question asking voters whether they wish to allow pari-mutuel gambling in the city to make way for a new Rosie’s location will appear on the November ballot after Prince William County Circuit Court Judge Kimberly A. Irving signed off on a 533-signature petition (450 signatures, or 5% of the city’s voters, were needed for approval).

The petition, certified by the Manassas Park registrar’s office, had been submitted earlier in August by Churchill Downs Incorporated, the parent company of Rosie’s Gaming Emporium.

The ballot initiative in November will require a majority of voters in the city to pass. If approved, a new Rosie’s fitted with slot-like historical horse racing machines would be legal to build in the city, though the company would still require final sign-off from the City Council in the form of a conditional use permit.

Several councilmembers have voiced support for Churchill Downs’ proposal to build the Rosie’s at the Manassas Park Shopping Center on Centreville Road and Manassas Drive. Among those is Councilmember Michael Carrera, who helped lead the signature collection.

But some city officials remain opposed to the idea, including Vice Mayor Alanna Mensing and Mayor Jeanette Rishell, who has said the facility would “change the character” of the city.

Rishell did not immediately return a request for comment.

“I am excited that Churchill Downs has selected the City of Manassas Park for expansion if this measure passes,” Carrera said in a statement. “The immediate major benefit will be increased tax revenues that we have long needed that will assist with additional city services and that will provide the opportunity for much needed property tax reduction for our residents. But the full opportunity is so much greater than that.”

Carrera continued, “This is an opportunity for Manassas Park to be associated with Churchill Downs – the biggest name in horse racing and one of the foremost names in entertainment in the country. Rosie’s will be a world class entertainment destination and will help our local businesses grow with greater visibility and new customers. I urge all my fellow residents to vote yes for pari-mutuel gaming. It’s truly a vote for a better and stronger Manassas Park!”

Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement they’re excited to bring their brand to the city.

“Rosie’s is all about fun with a stage for live band performances, a terrific menu, an opportunity to watch a game or the horses run anywhere in the country, and yes – pari-mutuel gaming,” Carstanjen said, “We are already seeing tremendous enthusiasm and support for what we are proposing in Manassas Park. We plan to deliver entertainment, millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the city, and well-paying jobs.”

The company said in June the facility would bring 150 jobs to the city.

Rosie’s emporiums feature slot-like historical horse racing machines that look and play similarly to traditional slot machines, but where winners are determined by historical horse races. The machines are legal under Virginia’s pari-mutuel wagering statute and regulated by the Virginia Horse Racing Commission. Similar machines are found throughout the commonwealth at gas stations and convenience stores.

Churchill Downs is allowed to operate up to 5,000 such machines across the state, and the planned location in Manassas Park would include up to 350 machines.

In Dumfries, where a Rosie’s Gaming Emporium opened in 2021, gaming tax revenues have more than tripled from what they were prior and are expected to continue growing. Town officials project exponential revenue growth into 2024, anticipating $3.6 million from gaming alone – almost half of the town’s total tax revenue in the 2023 budget cycle. The impending opening of The Rose, Churchill Downs’ expanded gaming facility, hotel and theater, is expected to help the town reach those projections. The Rose is planned to open next year.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up