After beginning construction last August, Rosie’s Gaming Emporium at Colonial Downs will open its doors to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. April 23.
When it opens Tuesday, customers can expect to walk into a vast first floor that features bars, a special smoking area, a restaurant with a wide view of the horse racing track and, of course, rows and rows of historical horse racing machines. In total, Rosie’s has 600 machines spread across two floors, with machines on the third floor focusing on high-limit gaming, Colonial Downs Director of Marketing Nate Mize said.
On the first floor, the cost of games goes down to a minimum of 20 cents per spin, while machines on the third floor cost as much as $15 a spin, Mize said. The majority of off-track betting will be done on the third floor, he said, where attendees can watch and bet on live horse races from around the country.
The decision to build a Rosie’s in New Kent followed the passage of legislation that legalized the use of slot-like machines to bet on previously contested races, according to a past Tidewater Review report.
Mize and Aaron Gomes, chief operating officer of Colonial Downs Group, said the main thing left to do before Tuesday will be to train staff. Gomes said approximately 220 employees are on the payroll at Rosie’s, with 495 active and committed jobs across the rest of the state.
By opening day, staff will run through drills so they know how to respond to a wide range of issues and emergency situations that could arise on the gaming floor.
“For gaming, it may be a jackpot, it may be that the tickets ran out at the gates, everything from someone losing their keys to a cardiac arrest on the floor, and we do it through all of these scenarios so we’re prepared when the guests arrive for anything and everything from emergencies to guest service issues to operational concerns,” Gomes said.
Colonial Downs spokesman Mark Hubbard said employees at the Rosie’s in New Kent were hired both locally and regionally.
Live horse racing at Colonial Downs will resume Aug. 8, Gomes said. Once it starts, live horse races will run for 15 days from Thursdays to Saturdays.
Gomes said the live racing and the historical horse race wagering will complement each other.
“All of this was done to bring horse racing back to the Commonwealth, and it would not have happened without historical horse racing,” he said. “There are very few states where horse racing is self-sustaining anymore, and those where it is self-sustaining, they have hopes that eventually gaming in some form will be legalized to subsidize the horse races, because long-term, horse racing anymore just isn’t self-sustaining.”
In total, Gomes and Hubbard expect to see more than 1,000 people at Rosie’s on Tuesday.
“We’ve done previous openings of gaming operations and if it’s any indication, you usually have pretty lengthy lines,” Gomes said. “We believe that the public is very excited from the feedback that we’ve gotten, so we’re expecting good crowds out there.”
Following the opening, Colonial Downs staff will continue construction work on the track, which includes adding new surfacing, burning existing turf and revitalizing the stable areas, race offices, the clubhouse and suites.
“We’re excited to show people what we’ve put our sweat into since the legislation passed last year,” Gomes said.
After the ribbon cutting Tuesday, Rosie’s will be open daily. Its regular operating hours will be 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information, visit rosiesgaming.com.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.