Hampton council goes “all in” on new casino like gaming emporium

“Rosie’s” can feature up to 700 historical horse racing machines

By: Brett Hall |  Brian Reese

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The Hampton City Council has given the go-ahead for a new gambling operation that is the closest thing to a casino that Hampton Roads has ever seen.

Council unanimously voted Wednesday night to issue an operating permit for “Rosie’s Gaming Emporium,” an off-track betting and restaurant venue, planned for the Power Plant of Hampton Roads Entertainment District

The $40 million gaming venture, owned and eventually operated by the Colonial Downs Group, will encompass nearly 40,000-square-feet. While the majority of the space will come in the form of a new building, the facility will use all of the space formerly occupied by the NASCAR Sports Grille and Luckie’s Dueling Pianos.

It will be one of 5 “Rosie’s” locations to open up in the state and the first in Hampton Roads.

“We’re just excited to be part of the community,” said Aaron Gomes, Chief Operating Officer of the Colonial Downs Group, which is also currently working to reopen the Colonial Downs Raceway in New Kent.

“I think that the customer that traditionally games at a casino will find the historical horse racing games very entertaining,” Gomes said.

The Hampton “Rosie’s” location could include up to 700 historical horse racing machines, which were just legalized last year in Virginia. They act and look similar to many slot machines seen in casinos around the country.

“Every time you push a button here, the wheels will spin here, but all it is is betting on a combination of historical horse races,” Gomes said. “It will look and feel very similar.”

The names of the jockey’s, horses, date of the race and track are all erased, according to Gomes. Real states about the horse are displayed prior to the placement of a wager.

You must be 18-years of age or older to play.

Nobody spoke in opposition to the plan and nobody appeared to two community meetings Colonial Downs said they held last year, according to the City Planning Department.

The gaming venue will be open 8 a.m. – 2 a.m. seven days a week with a minimum of 7 security officers on property at all times.

In addition, all 200 staff members will be trained to spot “problem gambling” according to Gomes.

Construction is expected to start in the coming weeks with an opening scheduled for early Fall.