Colonial Downs (copy)

Colonial Downs is under renovation for its upcoming opening on April 23. New machines will give visitors gambling options.

The casino-style facility being built at Colonial Downs will open its doors to the public next week, about one year after Virginia lawmakers passed a bill to legalize the new venture.

Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, which will feature 600 slots-like historical horse racing machines, a restaurant and bar and simulcast horse racing, will open on April 23 at 11 a.m., according to the new owners of Colonial Downs.

The historical horse racing machines—which look and feel like traditional slot machines but are powered by an archive of past horse races—are the linchpin of the plan to revive horse racing in Virginia.

A Chicago-based company purchased the shuttered New Kent County race track last year and has said it will spend more than $300 million to revamp it and build a handful of off-track gambling parlors around the state.

A Rosie’s facility is set to open open in the town of Vinton in Roanoke County next month, and another being planned for South Richmond is scheduled to open in June. Two more are expected to follow in Chesapeake and Hampton.

Critics have said the historical horse racing machines are virtually indistinguishable from slot machines, which are illegal under state law. Colonial Downs representatives have insisted the machines are different because they operate under a pari-mutuel wagering system in which players wager against each other, not the house.

At the New Kent Rosie’s, bets can range from 20 cents per spin to $15 per spin. Payouts will depend on the size of the betting pools.

The first day of live racing at the track is scheduled for Aug. 8.

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