Development of Norfolk's HeadWaters Resort & Casino May Be In Doubt

Development of Norfolk's HeadWaters Resort & Casino May Be In Doubt
Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

The pace of creating resort-style brick-and-mortar casinos in Virginia has moved at a deliberate pace, to put it tactfully, and the most recent development in Norfolk won’t hasten things any across the Virginia sports betting scene.

To be sure, there are three casinos already operating but two of them, in Danville and Bristol, are temporary facilities taking bets as grander gambling palaces are being built. 

Rivers Casino in Portsmouth -- owned by a familiar name, Rush Street Gaming – opened a $340 million permanent casino in January but the accompanying hotel is still in the future.

As far as a Richmond-area casino is concerned, it’s hard telling when or even if that will happen.

Meanwhile, Norfolk seemed to be on track for the HeadWaters Resort & Casino. Promoted as a  $500 million casino-hotel next to Norfolk’s Harbor Park, HeadWaters is led by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

It appeared the Tribe was recently ready to present its application for a Development Certificate to begin construction on the initial phase of the project when the brakes were slammed on.
 

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Schedule Conflict Raises Eyebrows

Recently on the casino project’s website was this message: “Upon the recommendation of the City of Norfolk, HeadWaters Resort & Casino’s development team will not present its application for a Development Certificate to begin construction on the initial phase of its planned $500 million resort and casino project at the (Architectural Review Board) meeting today (July 24)." 

Instead, the City will meet with the Pamunkey Tribe and its development team at a future date.

The Tribe noted in a press release that it had received conflicting instructions from the city in communications received in March and July.

In the casino’s press release, Robert Gray, Chief of the Pamunkey Tribe said the Tribe is committed to the HeadWaters project.

“We want to get this project up and running as soon as possible to start generating revenue for the Tribe and our citizens, for the other recognized Virginia tribes that will benefit from this project, and for the City of Norfolk, its citizens and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Gray went on to say that despite the “city’s desire to reduce the land we have to build on,” the Tribe is committed to building a $500 million casino and 300-room high-end luxury hotel, including amenities.

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Author

Bill Ordine was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others

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