Return of Vinton off-track betting in the Homestretch

  • The odds are in Vinton’s favor for an economic boost fueled by the return of a horse betting parlor, according to the new owners of Colonial Downs racetrack.

    Rosie’s Gaming Emporium will have about 125 employees with an average income of $40,000, plus benefits, Mike Donovan, the chief marketing officer for Colonial Downs Group said Monday at a groundbreaking event. The parlor is a resurrection of an off-track betting site that closed four years ago on Vinyard Road.

Lilly, a retired racehorse from WTR Stables in Roanoke, and trainer Stacey Fitzgerald appeared Monday
during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Colonial Downs off-track betting facility and restaurant in Vinton.


The project is expected to generate $1.5 million in taxes annually, with one-third going to Vinton, Donovan said. The company expects customers to travel from surrounding counties, providing more money to the town.

The ceremony drew about 30 people to the parking lot of the 15,200-square-foot building. They huddled beneath a canopy to learn more about the new betting site on a chilly morning.

Rosie’s in Vinton is part of a network of parlors set to reopen across the state. The Colonial Downs Group is reviving the parlors with the new Rosie’s moniker, along with the racetrack in New Kent County, located just east of Richmond off Interstate 64.

The track and parlors closed in 2014 following contract disputes between previous owner Jacobs Entertainment and the Virginia Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

This spring, Chicago-based Revolutionary Racing bought Colonial Downs for more than $20 million. Revolutionary Racing was then absorbed into Colonial Downs Group for branding purposes, said spokesman Mark Hubbard.

The company said it plans to revive thoroughbred racing in Virginia through a $300 million enterprise funded largely by historical horse racing machines.

Historical horse racing is a new type of wagering system legalized by the Virginia General Assembly prior to the track’s sale. Users place bets on an archive of prerecorded races. The terminals look similar to slot machines but operate under the same pari-mutuel wagering system as live horse racing.

The Virginia Racing Commission officially approved a new license for Colonial Downs last week, including 15 thoroughbred racing days for 2019, and 30 race days in 2020.

The Vinton parlor, open every day of the week, will include a restaurant, bar and gift shop, and is projected to open in April, the company said. It will offer 150 historical horse racing games, and live streaming of thoroughbred horse races across North America.

Colonial Downs Group is clearing the decks inside the facility as part of the renovation.

Vinton Mayor Brad Grose said the project is “another great example of what’s going on” in the town as a result of hard work and community partnerships.

“I think it’s going to be great for Vinton, and for a good part of the state,” Grose said.

The previous facility operated for 10 years after local voters approved off-track betting at the parlor through a ballot referendum.

Debbie Easter, the president of the Virginia Equine Alliance, said the trainers, racers and owners she represents “couldn’t be more happy” with the resurgence of the track and connected parlors, and its economic impact on the state.

Colonial Downs Group bought the Vinton property for $2.5 million last month. It was previously owned and leased by the Brabham family.

The first race day at Colonial Downs is set for Aug. 8, with the Virginia Derby scheduled for Aug. 31.