Norfolk Casino Committee Launches To Promote Referendum

Written By Dann Stupp on August 31, 2020

A potential Norfolk casino took one step closer to reality.

On Monday, the All In for Norfolk Casino Committee officially kicked off its campaign to bring a casino resort to the southeastern Virginia city.

If a referendum passes during the general election on Nov. 3, a $500 million casino-resort could come to downtown Norfolk.

The city of Norfolk and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe will work together on the project. The tribe first announced plans for a casino in Norfolk in December 2018. The following month, the Norfolk City Council voted to partner with the tribe on the Norfolk Resort & Casino.

Getting a yes vote on Norfolk casino

The All In for Norfolk Casino Committee has approximately two more months to convince voters to cast a yes ballot.

As part of its pitch, it’s focusing primarily on jobs and education funding.

The Virginia General Assembly voted to legalize casino gambling in April. As a result, it opened the door for Norfolk and four other cities to build casinos. Each city now has to clear a voter referendum.

In addition to Norfolk, Virginia could also soon have casinos in Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth and Richmond. Each city was chosen because of its economically challenged status.

Norfolk has a population of nearly 250,000. It’s the third-largest city in Virginia; however, its economy isn’t diversified. Military spending and transportation/ports are the primary drivers.

In addition to casino jobs, according to the committee, the project would bolster Norfolk’s burgeoning tourism sector with up to 6.2 million annual visitors.

As part of its push, the committee is promoting both the revenue and the jobs that the resort would generate.

About the Norfolk casino-resort

The $500 million Norfolk Resort & Casino would be located next to Harbor Park on the Elizabeth River. It would be in downtown Norfolk on a 14-acre site. The city of Norfolk specifically noted that it would continue the revitalization of its waterfront.

The resort would include a 300-room hotel, a casino, sportsbook and an entertainment venue. Additionally, the complex would feature world-class restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and other features.

Supporters say the project could create 2,500 permanent jobs and more than 2,000 temporary construction jobs.

Overall, they say the project would have an annual impact of $850 million across the commonwealth of Virginia. It would generate approximately $50 million annually for public schools across the state and $25 million directly to Norfolk.

Helping the Norfolk community

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe has made special mention of its local ties while promoting the Norfolk casino project.

Proceeds of the approximate $10 million land sale for the casino will be set aside to renovate the city’s two public high schools, for example.

However, the tribe has also made a commitment to essential services and resources, specifically food insecurities. During Monday’s media event, officials announced plans for a new $150,000 grocery store in the St. Paul area that includes several public housing communities. The neighborhood became a food desert in June with the closing of its only grocery store.

The tribe said the grocery store would be built regardless of whether the casino referendum passes in Norfolk.

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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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