AMHERST COUNTY, Va. – As we inch closer toward November elections, controversy continues over a measure on the ballot in Amherst County.
Voters will get to decide if a Richmond-based company can continue building a Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in Madison Heights.
“I love to game, and this is not far from my home,” Madison Heights resident Irene Dean says.
But a gaming emporium could mean more than just something to do for people in Amherst County.
“It means jobs, tax revenue and economic development,” Rosie’s Regional General Manager Ernie Dellaverson says.
Dellaverson says the county would get around $800,000 in taxable revenue to better the area. Something folks say is needed as several bars, restaurants and shops have had to close their doors over the years.
“The community grows from that. This shopping plaza will grow from it,” Dellaverson says. “Amherst County and Madison Heights will grow from that.”
But others ask: At what cost?
Arguing, for Rosie’s to win, the people of Amherst County have to lose big.
“This whole proposal here in Amherst County is a big con on the people and that’s why people should vote no,” National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling Les Bernal says.
The growing group “Amherst Against Rosie’s” gathered Thursday night in opposition. Bernal, who for more than a decade has traveled around the nation speaking against gambling in communities, came out from Boston to speak at the rally.
“In order for the county of Amherst to receive the money, the $800,000, the people of Amherst County need to lose $32 million dollars of personal wealth in order for the county to get that little sliver,” Bernal says.
Still, economic developers are hopeful since they collected more than 2,000 signatures to get Rosie’s on the ballot. If it passes, Rosie’s could be up and running in two years.