Horse racing, gaming fans and local officials welcomed Rosie’s Gaming Emporium at Colonial Downs with open arms at the facility’s ribbon cutting and public opening ceremony Tuesday morning.
After remarks from local officials, which included New Kent Board of Supervisors Chairman Thomas Tiller, State Del. Christopher Peace and Sen. Thomas K. “Tommy” Norment, hundreds crowded into the vast gaming floor at Rosie’s, taking their seats in front of rows of historical horse racing wagering machines.
Rosie’s at Colonial Downs features 600 historical horse racing machines along with a restaurant, bar and off-track horse race betting opportunities.
Sandston residents Clarence and Elizabeth Browning were first in line for the opening, and although they arrived at 8:30 a.m., they said they’d been waiting for the return of Colonial Downs for much longer. The two said they have fond memories of days at Colonial Downs before the track closed in 2014.
“We have a history with Colonial Downs from before,” they said. “We’re here to support the horse racing. The historical horse racing is a good bonus, but once the horse racing gets started you won’t be able to shut this place down.”
Henrico resident Lakeisha Price said that although it was her first time at Colonial Downs, it wouldn’t be her last.
“We’re excited to get a casino and it’s close to home, so that’s a perk for us,” Price said.
Tiller said he’s excited to see the economic impact Rosie’s will have in New Kent County, which will help to fund upcoming capital projects including the construction of a fifth fire station and plans for a new elementary school.
“This is going to have a great impact in New Kent County. It’s already been shown in the jobs that have been created and the people that have been hired,” he said.
Peace echoed that sentiment, saying the collaboration between the State Senate and the House of Delegates in passing the legislation necessary to legalize the use of slot-like machines to bet on previously contested races has already resulted in a boon for the local economy.
“It is a wonderful day for New Kent,” Peace said. “We’re about building this community, growing this community, creating economic opportunities and job opportunities so families can thrive.”
Although Rosie’s is now open for business, Colonial Downs Group representatives said the next major milestone is the return of live horse racing on Aug. 8. Once it starts, live races will run for 15 days from Thursdays to Saturdays.
“Today marks an early moment in the future of the new Colonial Downs,” said Brent Stevens with Colonial Downs Group. “We have so far invested $175 million here in New Kent and the surrounding facilities that we have throughout the commonwealth, but that’s just the beginning. I speak for all of my team members when I say that we all feel the weight, the enormity and the privilege of being here today.”
Want to go?
Rosie’s in New Kent is open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.