Richmond Casino Proposal Has Second Chance As Voting Starts Friday

Richmond Casino Proposal Has Second Chance As Voting Starts Friday
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

As voters in Richmond get ready to head to the polls, proponents for bringing casino gaming to the Virginia capitol have made changes to their plans in hopes of drumming up more support for the $562 million project.

Election Day is Nov. 7, but early voting begins Friday. Last Wednesday, the Richmond Office of Elections released sample ballots. The one-page ballot has five versions to include the various legislative races for the districts representing parts of the city. They appear to the left of the casino referendum.

The question reads: “Shall casino gaming be permitted at a casino gaming establishment in the City of Richmond, Virginia at 2001 Walmsley Boulevard and 4700 Trenton Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23234 as may be approved by the Virginia Lottery Board?”

It marks the second time in two years that Richmond voters will be asked to approve a casino in the city. In 2021, the Richmond casino vote failed by less than 1,500 votes out of nearly 79,000 ballots. Three months ago, the Richmond City Council passed a resolution calling for another referendum, which survived a legal challenge from opponents.

In the run-up to the start of early voting, proponents for the casino resort are holding an “informational meeting” with residents of the neighborhoods near the proposed site for the development. Scheduled to appear are the top executives for the companies involved in the joint venture: Urban One, inc. CEO Alfred Liggins III and Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bill Carstanjen.

Casino Project Gets New Name, New Partner

In addition to Virginia sports betting, the state also allows cities to choose whether to build brick-and-mortar casinos.

The most significant change to the Richmond casino project this time is that Louisville-based gaming company is partnering with Urban One, which is the largest urban market focused media company in the U.S. Two years ago, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment was Urban One’s partner. However, P2E sold its rights to the project last year to CDI as part of a $2.75 billion sale. Churchill also acquired Colonial Downs Racetrack and its historical horse racing venues in the state as part of the deal.

The project's name has also been changed from One Casino and Resort to the Richmond Grand Resort and Casino. Other details, though, remain the same, with the developers saying the casino will create 1,300 new jobs. Starting pay for those positions will be $40,000 yearly, and the average salary will be more than $55,000. The project will still contain a 250-room resort hotel, a 3,000-seat concert venue and more than a dozen new restaurants and bars.

Supporters released a video earlier this month touting the new name and mentioning other benefits to voters who may not be enthused about supporting casino gaming. Those include 55 acres of public parkland and $30 million in new tax revenue to support education.

Early voting will take place Monday-Friday each week leading up to the weekend before the election. City officials will also offer early voting on the two Saturdays leading up to the Nov. 7 election.

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Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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