Dumfries Commission Votes To Back ‘The Rose’ Historical Horse Racing Resort

Posted on September 15, 2021

The Rose,” a super-sized edition of the Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums located throughout Virginia, has cleared one potential hurdle toward an opening in Dumfries.

The Dumfries Planning Commission on Monday voted unanimously, 5-0, to recommend the project.

It’s the latest step for the proposed $389 million gaming center, resort, and entertainment destination in northern Virginia.

Up next? The Dumfries Town Council will make its recommendation for the proposed HHR resort. The facility would compete with Virginia’s soon-to-open casinos for Virginians’ bettings dollars.

Decision time for Dumfries

Colonial Downs Group Inc. operates five Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums, including one already in Dumfries.

However, the company, which also operates the Colonial Downs horse racing track (and a Rosie’s) in New Kent, previously announced its grand plans for The Rose.

The resort would look like a full-fledged casino. After all, HHR machines look and operate much like traditional slot machines, though they operate under a different part of the law.

Perhaps the most novel aspect of the project, aside from its overall cost and scale, would be its location. The Rose would sit atop a longtime eyesore in Dumfries: the Potomac Landfill. In addition to the gaming parlor, The Rose would feature a 93.5-acre park with an amphitheater, recreation trails, athletic facilities, and sprawling green spaces.

It’s an ambitious undertaking that could transform a city of 5,000 that’s struggled with crime, poverty, and unemployment. As with any gaming enterprise, though, it’s hard to know the exact impact it’d have on the economy and its residents.

Ultimately, that’ll be up to the Dumfries council to decide. Council members will meet Sept. 21 to discuss a rezoning and conditional use permit. The public will also offer input during the meeting.

If the council approves the project, Colonial Downs is expected to finalize the purchase of the landfill in early 2022.

Can HHR compete with Virginia and Maryland casinos?

Maryland has six casinos in operation. Over the next few years, four Virginia casinos also will open throughout the commonwealth (Richmond voters could soon green-light one there too, and if so, Colonial Downs will be part of it).

If things go as planned for Colonial Downs, officials could break ground on The Rose in mid-2022 with a phased opening beginning in 2023. That’s a big selling point for Dumfries residents since it would allow Colonial Downs to close the much-hated landfill 10 years ahead of schedule.

Colonial Downs officials say the project could create $48 million in annual tax revenue, as well as 640 jobs and an average salary of $47,000.

As for the gaming aspects of the project, The Rose wouldn’t be able to offer traditional table games, slot machines, and a poker room like you find in full-fledged casinos. However, unlike existing Rosie’s locations, The Rose would have many amenities often found at major casino-resorts:

  • Racebook/off-tracking betting
  • Hotel rooms
  • Bars, restaurants, and retail space
  • Meeting and event space
  • Theater

Dumfries is located just 30 miles from the Washington, DC, and Maryland borders. And even if a Richmond casino does open, The Rose’s nearest gaming competition will be in Maryland. So, The Rose theoretically could keep some gamblers in Virginia.

Photo by AP / Arvind Balaraman
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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