Bills For Virginia Casino Project in Reston Proposed, Then Rethought

Bills For Virginia Casino Project in Reston Proposed, Then Rethought
By Keith Stein
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

After just a few days of discussion and consideration, a Virginia Senator says he intends to withdraw his bill that was introduced Friday to consider building a casino in Fairfax County.

Virginia Sen. David Marsden, a Democrat who represents Burke, and Republican Del. Wren Williams, who represents the southwest region of the commonwealth, both introduced separate bills to change the Virginia Code so a casino could be built in Reston or Tysons Corner. Currently, there are only five casinos allowed in Virginia.

Marsden's bill, SB 1543, and Williams’ bill, HB 2499, seek to change the Code of Virginia so a casino could be built in “any county with a population greater than one million according to the 2021 population estimates.”

Though Fairfax County is not mentioned in the bills, it would be the only county in the state to match the criteria and restrictions stated in the bill.

But Marsden told the Washington Business Journal that the proposal does not have much of a chance and added: “It’s just too rushed, and so I’m probably going to have to talk to the individuals who approached me about it.”

Williams cited an opportunity for “…investments into education, infrastructure and other critical needs,” as high priorities, and reasons to explore a casino project, according to the Commercial Observer.

On Monday, the first fully operational Virginia casino, Rivers Casino Portsmouth, officially opened.

Status of Virginia Casinos

The cities of Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth all passed casino referendums in November 2020 by large margins to build casinos in their city. Voters in Richmond rejected a 2021 referendum to build a casino in the state capital.

The City of Petersburg is taking a swing at taking the casino from Richmond after it was voted down. Richmond has hopes to conduct a second referendum vote and give the casino project a second chance to pass.

In a letter to the Virginia General Assembly this month, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said he “adamantly” opposes any legislation that constricts the rights of Richmond to have a resort casino. Stoney said his city council stands firm in preserving and defending holding a second resort casino referendum in 2023.

First Fully Operational Casino in Virginia Open

The newly opened Rivers Casino Portsmouth has 1,446 slot machines, 57 table games, 24 poker tables, and onsite dining and entertainment options, including a retail BetRivers Sportsbook Virginia.

Hard Rock International opened a temporary casino, Bristol Casino, in July. The permanent Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol is scheduled to open in May 2024. The temporary casino provides 870 slot machines, 21 table games, restaurants, and a retail Hard Rock Sportsbook.

Casinos in Danville (Caesars Virginia) and Norfolk (HeadWaters Resort & Casino) are under construction.

Metro Train Station Prime Spot for Casino

The new legislation introduced Friday, HB2499 and SB 1543, states “any city with a population greater than 200,000 according to the 2018 population estimates” would be eligible to host a casino. The bills also direct attention to selecting a Virginia Indian tribe that has the authority to conduct gaming activities.

“The site of the casino gaming establishment shall be limited to a location that is within one-quarter of a mile from an existing station on the Metro Silver Line” train system, the bill says. In addition, the casino would be part of a coordinated mixed-use project development, outside the Dulles airport flight path, and outside the Interstate 495 Beltway highway.

There are no Virginia online casinos available right now.

Competition For Northern Virginia Dollars

A casino in Northern Virginia would clearly spark serious competition in the region with Maryland's MGM National Harbor, which is 35 minutes from Reston.

The Rose gaming resort in Dumfries, from Churchill Downs, is scheduled to open in September, 48 minutes away. Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races is 56 minutes away. The closest competition in Pennsylvania could be with the new Parx casino in Shippensburg, which is scheduled to open this week. That facility is about two hours away.

Look for the best Virginia sportsbook promos for your sports wagering interests at BetVirginia.com.

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Contributors

Keith Stein is a Virginia-based writer for BetVirginia.com who covers sports betting and casinos.

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