After weeks of back-and-forth, the Dumfries Town Council voted Tuesday night to clear the way for the state’s newest Rosie’s Gaming Emporium at the Triangle Center.
By a 4-3 vote, the council approved a conditional use permit for the 18,364-square-foot gaming parlor and removed a requirement that Colonial Downs Group, Rosie's parent company, pay the town $100,000 for transportation improvements. Council members Melva Willis, Selonia Miles and Cydny Neville voted against the proposal.
“Tonight we can say ‘Yes’ for folks who are out of work in our community to get high quality, good paying jobs that, we heard tonight, they can turn into careers,” Mayor Derrick Wood said, referring to the Rosie’s employees from other locations that spoke at the council meeting. “More visitors attract more investment, more investment means more jobs and, in turn, a more vibrant community.”
Rosie’s locations offers betting on historic horse races played on slot-like machines.
Mark Hubbard, a spokesman for Colonial Downs Group, said after the vote that the company hoped to have the parlor open by the end of the year. In the coming months, he said, the parlor will be holding job fairs to staff the new location.
Previously, Colonial Downs has claimed that the location would employ 150 people with an average annual salary of $47,000. Earlier this year, Rosie’s announced that it would be raising the company's minimum wage to $15 an hour, though it didn’t specify the time frame for doing so. The emporium will also feature food, drinks and live entertainment.
“We’ve done that in the other communities,” Hubbard said of the job fairs, “so that local residents have an opportunity to come in and share their resume, share their desire to work for Rosie’s, and we’ll actually do some on the spot hiring at those jobs fairs.”
The General Assembly legalized historic horse race betting, in which players bet on old races on slot-like machines in 2018. Since then, Rosie’s has opened locations in New Kent, Vinton, Richmond and Hampton. In a November referendum, Dumfries voters supported a gaming parlor 468-306.
Dissenting council members raised two concerns: that a business permitted for its economic benefits could become a money sink for town residents, and that its location would be in the same shopping center as the Dumfries Neighborhood Library, which is often frequented by children and their parents.
“My concern is not with Rosie’s per se, my concern is with introducing a vice into the community at that location,” Miles said.
The council declined $100,000 in transportation money from Rosie’s, which the company had agreed to pay as a condition of its permit. Councilman Charles Brewer said it would be unfair to ask only Colonial Downs for that money and not every business that came to Dumfries. Or, Brewer suggested, it could scare off businesses from wanting to move to Dumfries.
“We’ve had 30 churches in town that had to get conditional use permits. You know how many conditions were put on those churches? Zero,” Brewer said.
At a public comment session before the vote, a number of Rosie’s employees and locals encouraged the council to clear the way for the parlor. Hubbard said the company had asked employees if they were interested in voluntarily speaking before the council, but couldn’t say if the company had arranged transportation for them.