Virginia Gaming Resort Multi-Million Plan Gains Preliminary Approval in Dumfries

Posted on: September 15, 2021, 08:18h. 

Last updated on: September 15, 2021, 11:53h.

A Virginia gaming resort proposal with a suggested development cost of $389 million made regulatory progress this week in Dumfries. A landfill may soon be the casino’s new home.

Virginia casino resort Rosie's Colonial Downs
The Dumfries, Va., landfill is seen in this 2018 file photo. A $389 million gaming resort pitch is targeting the site that is located just off Interstate 95 south of the nation’s capital. (Image: Historic Prince William)

The Colonial Downs Group owns the namesake horse racetrack in New Kent County. The group wants to redevelop 93.5 acres of the Potomac Landfill into a gaming resort destination dubbed The Rose. The blueprint, inclusive of two development phases, includes a gaming floor with 1,800 gaming positions and a sportsbook, 305-room hotel, a 40,000-square-foot entertainment venue, and numerous restaurants.

On Monday, the Dumfries Planning Commission voted unanimously 5-0 in approving the project. A public hearing has been subsequently scheduled for Sept. 21, which will be streamed online.

Community Concerns

The Planning Commission’s support followed an in-depth review of the undertaking that concluded that the resort would be a net positive for the town and region.

The proposal as submitted or as modified will not affect adversely the health, safety, or welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood of the proposed use; and will not be detrimental to public welfare or injurious to the property or improvements in the neighborhood,” Dumfries town planning staff concluded.

Dumfries is a small town with a population of approximately 5,000 residents. The Potomac Landfill has long been scorned by residents, and the owners of the site have agreed to sell the land to Colonial Downs should its gaming ambitions be fully approved.

Past Racing Saves Future

The Colonial Downs Group is owned by a group of Chicago-based investors who agreed to purchase the shuttered Colonial Downs Racetrack for some $20 million in April of 2018.

The deal was conditioned on Virginia legalizing historical horse racing (HHR) machines. HHR terminals mimic traditional casino slot machines but differ in that their outcomes are not random, but instead based on previously run horse races.

Colonial Downs explains HHRs:

“HHR is a true pari-mutuel wagering system that is delivered to the customer in an entertaining video experience.

The definition of pari-mutuel is the operator does not have a stake in the outcome of the wager and the net pool is returned to the players. The cabinetry looks like a traditional game, but it functions the same as placing a wager at an OTB kiosk, and the results are displayed as both a graphical representation of past horse races and another screen provides animation similar to traditional games.”

To justify the Colonial Downs Racetrack acquisition, the investors sought — and gained — approval to operate HHR gaming venues throughout Virginia. Under its Rosie’s Gaming Emporium brand, the company today has gaming parlors in Hampton, New Kent, Richmond, Vinton, and Collinsville.

The Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums have resulted in live racing resuming at Colonial Downs, as part of the gaming receipts go towards funding horse purses.

Ideal Location

Virginia ended its long opposition to casinos last year. That’s when Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed legislation allowing residents in five economically troubled cities to decide through a ballot referendum whether to authorize a single gaming resort to spur business growth.

Casinos have been approved in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. Voters in Richmond will decide a casino proposal’s fate this fall.

The four casinos in development will feature slot machines and table games, as well as sports betting. Colonial Downs’ The Rose would benefit against the more expansive casinos by being located in the National Capital Region, commonly referred to as the DMV, an abbreviation for the intersection of DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

Though only 5,000 people live in Dumfries, the Washington DC metro is home to some 6.3 million people.