Hampton has a new word to say in the gambling industry. With the opening of Rosie’s Gaming Emporium at the Power Plant of Hampton Roads, gaming fever has come to Hampton.
Let’s Talk About Rosie
In the past week, hundreds of patrons have waged a bet org two, or more on historic horse races, via the business’ over 700 electronic gaming devices. Though the company doesn’t track how many patrons pass through the doors, visitors have racked up $7 million in sales and generated $20,000 in city tax revenue, said Mark Hubbard, spokesman for Colonial Downs Group, which owns Rosie’s.
“We have seen heavy traffic. We are new and different, and people are checking us out,” said Mark Hubbard.
Hampton wants to hype up the market and is counted among those localities permitted to develop casino gaming.
The request is among several priorities in the city’s 2020 legislative package, which Hampton City Council is set to approve Wednesday.
The Newly Changed Legislations
Earlier this year, state legislators passed a combined bill, led by Sen. Louise Lucus, D-Portsmouth, to permit casino gambling regulated by the Virginia Lottery Board. The bill limits casino operation to five sites — Richmond, Danville, Bristol, and Norfolk and Portsmouth, in Hampton Roads.
In March, Gov. Ralph Northam confirmed a study to look at casino gaming laws in other states and economic impact. The study, ongoing since the summer, is expected to be completed later this month. The legislation also provided that the host cities pass a referendum to allow casino gaming, but not before the study was completed.
With Norfolk and Portsmouth proposals in motion, including one pitched by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, talk of the Hampton Roads region supporting multiple casinos has the Hampton City Council fired up.
“From my perspective, there should be one of these on this side of the water,” Mayor Donnie Tuck commented. “Hampton is the center of the region.”
A casino, which could be anchored near the Coliseum Central neighborhood, also would support regional economic development, added Tuck further. “We can use some of the profit for regional economic development projects, something we’d identify,” he said.
During an October council meeting, as the city’s consultant, Two Capitals Consultants, presented a draft legislative package, members also discussed the topic regarding the casino gaming issue.
Councilwoman Linda Curtis said Hampton needs to be added the statute if the city is to even take time to consider whether it wants to host a casino, or if citizens wanted one.
“We need to get our hat in the ring, so we are ready to say yes or no to it,” Councilman Billy Hobbs said.
Consultant C.J. Stolle told the council that if the General Assembly passes the same legislation following the study results, Hampton wouldn’t be included.
State Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, said lawmakers will have a better idea of how to proceed once the study is finished and the analyze is completed.
While the senator awaits to see the city’s full legislative package, Locke said Hampton has wanted “in” since the days of the riverboat casino gambling proposals.
“It’s not as if this is new to Hampton,” she said, meaning that the city has a long waited will be completed at least by the end of this year, though will it represents the true will of the citizens, that is the remaining question.