Casino Referendum

Legislation adopted by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Northam earlier this year authorizes the city to host a casino gaming establishment, subject to the residents of Richmond approving a casino referendum. That referendum is anticipated to be on the ballot in November of 2021. The law requires that, prior to requesting the court to order a casino referendum, the city select a preferred resort casino operator and location. The preferred casino operator is Urban One Experience, an African-American owned media conglomerate. The proposed location is near the intersection of Commerce Road and Walmsley Boulevard, in the 8th City Council District. 

Ballot Statement:

  • “Shall casino gaming be permitted at a casino gaming establishment in the City of Richmond, Virginia, at 2001 Walmsley Boulevard and 4700 Trenton Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23234 as may be approved by the Virginia Lottery Board?”

https://www.rva.gov/economic-development/resort-casino

Casino Facts:

  • Will be owned and operated by Urban One Experience in partnership with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment and Live Nation
  • 100,000 sq ft Casino
  • 2,000 slot machines and 110 table games
  • 250-room hotel
  • 15 bars & restaurants

Pros of Casino Construction

  • Will create 1,500 permanent jobs
  • Will raise $400+ Million in tax revenue
  • Has 50+ local minority investors
  • 80% of the resort’s revenue will be generated by visitors from outside the city limits
  • Will pay workers a starting minimum wage of $15 per hour
  • $55K average salary & benefits
  • Construction is supported by Mayor Levar Stoney and Lester Johnson of Mama J’s.

https://bit.ly/3GKjzWx

Statements from Supporters:

  • “I am convinced that Alfred and the One project also represents a legacy for our community bringing an unmatched level of inclusiveness, opportunity, and pride to the city that we love so much so that we are not only planning on placing a mama j’s inside but also to contributing to a success through financial investment.” – Lester Johnson

https://bit.ly/3CQXN0U

Cons of Casino Construction

  • 45% of residents surveyed in proposed building area are opposed to the project
  • 25% of residents surveyed in proposed building area are undecided
  • $1+ Million has been spent pitching the project with $660,000 in-kind cash contributions being made to political campaigns
  • Construction is opposed by Senator Tim Kaine and Richmond for All.

Statements from Opposers:

  • “Casinos are extractive,” said Quinton Robbins, the head of Richmond for All’s anti-casino campaign. “They talk about also building an entertainment venue and recording studio there. That’s great and the kind of development we support … but they’re coming here to build a casino.” – Richmond Times Dispatch

https://bit.ly/3DFspm5

Outcome of Referendum:

  • On November 2, 2021 Richmond voters rejected the plan for a casino development
  • On the morning of November 3, Mayor Stoney issued a statement announcing the failure of the referendum
  • “Rest assured, this administration will not be deterred from its ongoing mission to bring other economic development opportunities to our city that will benefit the lives of all who live here” – Mayor Stoney
  • “The result makes Richmond the only locality in the state to reject a casino via referendum. Last November, referendums for casinos in Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville, and Bristol all received an average of 68 percent of the vote and passed easily” – Richmondbizsense.com
  • “Last month, Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins said that in the event of the referendum failing in Richmond, he thinks the state government would move to have the matter revisited in one of the surrounding counties.” – Richmondbizsense.com

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