Richmond Casino Suffers Setback
Efforts to build a fifth Virginia casino remain on track even if a vote in Richmond has to wait until 2023. One Resort + Casino developers asked the city of Richmond to wait a year before asking voters to approve a casino there.
The pause marks a shift from just two months ago. In June, the city and project developers were ready to go to court. It’s the only way they can get a casino vote on the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot.
A Virginia budget amendment blocked the November 2022 Richmond casino vote.
“We’re disappointed the Virginia General Assembly has amended the state budget in a way that will deliberately harm the City of Richmond by denying economic opportunities for its residents,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said at the time.
“Our City Council voted 8-1, and the Circuit Court has ordered, that Richmond voters should have the opportunity to be heard on this issue in November. We are still assessing our legal options, but remain firm in our belief that the citizens of Richmond should not be disenfranchised just months before they would have the opportunity to vote.”
Richmond casino owners slow down timeline
Project supporters decided they couldn’t win a lawsuit in time for a fall vote anyway. Media conglomerate Urban One Inc. sees an easier path in 2023.
Urban One already has a pair of cable networks and more than 60 radio broadcast stations. Adding One Resort + Casino would make the venue the first Black majority-owned casino in the US.
But Urban One made the delay in their Richmond casino bid official on Thursday, Aug. 4, saying:
“Despite strong legal arguments to support moving forward in 2022, we have asked our partner, the City of Richmond, to withdraw their petition for a November 2022 ballot referendum because we feel a long protracted legal dispute at this time does not best serve the citizens of Richmond or the State of Virginia. We are now focused on winning the Richmond casino referendum in 2023.”
A closer look at One Resort + Casino plans
If Richmond voters sign off on 2023 casino plans, One Resort + Casino becomes the fifth Virginia casino. It would draw about 3.7 million guests each year, according to the project’s official website.
One Resort + Casino would have a South Richmond location near the Philip Morris manufacturing center and Interstate 95.
Developers could change plans with the new timeline. But, for now, project details call for 100,000 square feet of gaming space including:
- More than 1,800 slot machines
- Over 100 table games
- A poker room
- And a high-tech sportsbook
Legacy Tower includes 250 hotel rooms with a city view. The resort also features a business center, fitness room and 55 acres of green space. Developers designed Rise Theater to welcome more than 250,000 guests for 200 live shows.
One Resort + Casino plans call for 15 distinct restaurants and bars as well.
Peninsula Pacific Entertainment would operate the $565 million casino complex.
Richmond was only city to vote down a Virginia casino
The Virginia gaming industry went 4-for-4 in 2020 when residents approved casinos in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth.
Richmond was the only other Virginia city with permission to hold a casino vote. It landed on the November 2021 ballot.
Voters in the capital city didn’t give casino plans majority support. Since then, Petersburg, about 20 miles south of Richmond, emerged as a potential location. They don’t have state authorization to build a casino, however.
Chris Suarez of the Richmond Times was on hand Thursday night when Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins announced the 2023 vote.
“This has created a legal conflict and a huge cloud of doubt,” Liggins told about 100 people Thursday night.
The CEO said a lawsuit to get it onto the 2022 ballot “would probably not get decided in time for us to have early voting in late September.”