Dumfries’ Rose gaming resort could have big local impact
Athough casinos being built in four Virginia cities have grabbed the lion’s share of media attention, construction is also underway on The Rose, a $400 million gaming facility and hotel in Prince William County that represents an additional outcome of the state’s 2020 casino legislation.
Colonial Downs Group is building the hotel and conference center with 175,000 square feet of gaming space and eight restaurants on the former site of the Dumfries landfill. The project’s first phase, including 155 hotel rooms and an 80-acre public park, is expected to open in late 2023, according to Colonial Downs Group Chief Operations Officer Aaron Gomes.
The Rose will replace the Rosie’s Gaming Emporium that currently operates historical horse-racing machines in Dumfries, a town of about 5,000 people with an operating budget of $5.8 million.
Once it opens, The Rose is expected to generate $10.9 million in annual tax revenue for Dumfries and another $6.7 million for Prince William County.
When legislators in 2019 began debating a new law to allow five economically distressed Virginia cities to approve casinos, the historical horse racing industry pointed out that new competition from casinos would hurt their business model, making it harder for their slot-like machines to provide the revenue intended to keep live horse racing happening at Colonial Downs Racetrack in New Kent County.
“Historical horse racing operations were intended to lay the groundwork to bring horse racing back to Virginia,” says state Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax. “The proceeds from these terminals are used to fund the purses at Colonial Downs.”
As a compromise, the state raised the cap on the number of betting machines authorized in the state from 3,000 to 5,500, opening the door for Colonial Downs to expand on its 150-machine gaming center in Dumfries. The Rose could have as many as 1,800 machines.
Casinos are being built in other areas of the state (Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth), in part because local governments in Northern Virginia did not show much interest in the proposal to allow casinos to be built.
“I think eventually there will be a discussion about that,” Surovell says, adding that the state should try to recoup some of the revenue from the MGM National Harbor Casino, located in Oxon Hill, Maryland, just across the Potomac from Alexandria. “$300 million a year goes to Maryland to pay for their schools.”