Voters Said No, But Urban One May Try Again For Richmond Casino

Written By Dann Stupp on December 10, 2021
Second Richmond casino referendum

A second Richmond casino referendum could be in the cards for the Virginia capital city.

Last month Richmond voters narrowly struck down a casino referendum. If it had passed, the $560 million One Casino + Resort would’ve come to life in south Richmond.

Instead, the ballot measure failed with 51.2% against the Virginia casino and 48.8% for it.

Despite the election results, Urban One and its partners at Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) are apparently considering Round 2.

A second Richmond casino referendum?

The Richmond Time Dispatch recently reported that a new survey is circulating among Richmond residents via text and phone.

It reportedly asks how the respondents voted on the casino referendum. It also asks if they’d vote the same way if asked again.

It’s reportedly led to speculation around Richmond that Urban One and P2E are considering a second Richmond casino referendum for One Casino + Resort. It’s also led to suggestions that officials are looking improve their messaging this time around.

Could they fine-tune their pitch to erase the 1,500-vote deficit they saw during Election Day 2021?

As Bob Holsworth, a veteran political analyst and former Virginia Commonwealth University dean, told the newspaper:

“Clearly they think that with slightly different messaging, they would have the opportunity to win if it came again. They’re exploring whether they would have a better chance of it passing if they redo the messaging with a stronger focus on challenges to the city’s budget.”

Urban One, a Maryland-based media conglomerate, reportedly didn’t deny it’s behind the survey.

A year prior to the Richmond vote, four other Virginia cities each held its own casino referendum. All of those measures passed overwhelmingly, and now, casinos are on the way to Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Will Richmond join them? And if not Richmond, will another city?

If not RVA, a casino where?

The survey isn’t the only sign of life in terms of a possible second Richmond casino referendum.

Richmond City Councilwoman Reva Trammell represents the Southside 8th Voter District. That’s where the casino would’ve been located. She’s reportedly collecting signatures to petition for another referendum.

Richmond proponents, who faced some heated opposition during the first referendum, also know time may be of the essence for this whole thing.

After the first referendum failed, other Virginia cities noticed. Granted, any other potential VA casino host cities would first need to get state legislative support to be eligible. But in nearby Petersburg, for example, the wheels are in motion.

Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham and Virginia State Senator Joe Morrissey have both pledged support for the project.

And for those public officials, there’s a lot to like. In addition to new jobs, Urban One would’ve paid Richmond $50 million annually for 10 years if the referendum had passed. That $50 million would cover 50% of Petersburg’s annual city budget, for example.

Other VA cities are no doubt also considering the boost such a project could bring to their schools, housing and city infrastructure.

Photo by Shutterstock / surasaki
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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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