Amherst County voters might have an opportunity in November to vote on pari-mutuel gaming in the county. It could bring a new Rosie's Gaming Emporium to the local area.
A petition is being circulated around Amherst County — located in the central part of Virginia near Lynchburg — to put a referendum on the ballot this November. The referendum would ask voters to approve pari-mutuel gaming in the county. If the referendum is approved, Colonial Downs Group, owner and operator of Rosie's Gaming Emporium, would then look to open a new Rosie's in the county.
Pari-mutuel wagering is already happening across Virginia — in communities like New Kent, Vinton, Richmond, Dumfries, and Hampton — and has created more than 1,000 jobs in the commonwealth.
In addition to the new Amherst location, Rosie's has proposed new facilities in Emporia and possibly Christiansburg. Rosie’s opened its first four locations in quick succession in 2019 and just celebrated its two-year anniversary in April.
The expansion of Rosie's locations follows the launch of legal sports betting that started in January in the state. Unibet was the last online sportsbook to launch in April, giving the state seven live sportsbooks. Plans call for five casinos located in Richmond, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville and Bristol.
A Rosie's in Amherst County would generate $800,000 annually in new county revenue from gaming, sales, meals, real estate, business personal property taxes and create nearly 100 new jobs paying $15-plus an hour and a $47,000 average annual salary with benefits, according to Amherst County officials.
Based in Virginia, Colonial Downs Group owns and operates a racetrack in New Kent, in addition to the Rosie's gaming locations. The company says its Rosie's locations across the state are crucial to the return of horse racing in Virginia.
Request to Circulate Peititions
According to a story on the WDBJ7 website, Colonial Downs Group announced Wednesday that Amherst County’s circuit court clerk, Deborah Mozingo, accepted a request to circulate petitions for a voter referendum that would allow pari-mutuel wagering at a satellite facility in the county. The paperwork was submitted on behalf of the company by local business owner Derin Foor, the story said.
Virginia law states localities that have not already approved pari-mutuel wagering must hold a voter referendum before a facility can be located in the community. To put a referendum on the ballot, signatures from at least 5% of qualified voters must be submitted to, and certified by, the General Registrar. Colonial Downs Group will now coordinate an Amherst County signature drive.
As of the 2010 census, the population of the rural county was 32,353, a small increase from the 31,894 people reported in the 2000 census. The county is served by Amherst County Public Schools, which operates one central high school, two middle schools and several elementary schools.
A website titled AmherstWins.com has been set up to support Rosie's effort.