The City of Richmond has whittled its six casino proposals to three.
The short list on the city’s economic development site has proposals by Bally’s, Urban One and Cordish as moving forward for consideration in Virginia.
Cut from the list are proposals by Golden Nugget, Wind Creek and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.
The move was confirmed in a news release posted Wednesday night on the city’s website. Virginia Business first reported the decision.
The stated timeline by the city is to have one casino proposal selected by June to go on a referendum in November.
The General Assembly passed legislation in 2020 to allow for casino construction in five Virginia cities.
Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth passed referendums in November 2020, and the proposed casino operators are working on submitting applications to the Virginia Lottery Board in April for final approval.
The Pamunkey Indian Tribe is planning a $500 million project with gaming space and a hotel in downtown Norfolk along the Elizabeth River. Other operators include Hard Rock (Bristol), Caesars (Danville) and Rush Street Gaming (Portsmouth).
The tribe’s $350 million proposal to Richmond — on land it already owns — was one the city dismissed Wednesday. The tribe’s reservation is miles from Richmond, along the Pamunkey River in King William County.
Pamunkey Indian Tribe spokesman Jay Smith sent a statement from Chief Robert Gray following their proposal’s rejection Wednesday night.
“The Pamunkey Indian Tribe was extremely disappointed to learn directly from the City of Richmond that its casino proposal would not receive any further consideration in the Richmond casino selection process,” Gray said in the statement. “The timing of the decision, which comes before the public comment period has even concluded, seriously undermines confidence in the selection process and suggests a pre-determined outcome has been reached. The timing of this decision also suggests that public and community input will not be seriously considered in this process. Further, it appears that the City of Richmond did not afford the Pamunkey Indian Tribe the optional preference in state law that recognizes the Pamunkey Tribe’s ancestral heritage in the region.
“The Pamunkey Indian Tribe submitted the only 100 percent minority-owned, Virginia-based proposal. We were shocked to learn of our early dismissal from a process occurring in our native region and state, particularly in light of the fact that the tribe was one of the first entities — if not the first — to talk to the city about gaming before commercial gaming was legalized in the Commonwealth.”
The other rejected proposals are a $541 million project from Windy Creek and a $400 million proposal from Golden Nugget.
The news release from the mayor’s office said “these proposals did not advance due to factors such as lack of site control, concerns about the feasibility of financial projections, lack of organizational experience and/or deficiency of the proposal. The top-ranked proposals stood out because the operators provided strong proposals with detailed financial and operational analyses to support their vision for a resort casino in Richmond. The evaluation panel will enter into the next phase of evaluation and begin negotiations with these operators, while continuing to engage the Richmond community.”
Three Proposals Move Forward
The three proposals still up for consideration are:
- Bally’s: The proposal from Bally’s is for a $650 million casino and resort development on 61 acres on the western border of the city. Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort will include a 250-room hotel, 3,000 seat multi-use event space, spa, 13 bars and restaurants, pool and visitor center, with an anticipated opening in 2024. It would feature 2,500 slot machines, 90 table games and 30 poker tables, and projects to attract 3.7 million visitors annually.
- Cordish Cos.: Live! Casino and Hotel Richmond would cost $600 million and feature a 300-room hotel, 4,000-capacity entertainment venue, and 18 bars and restaurants. Its gaming space would have 2,000 slot machines, 120 table games — including poker room — and a sportsbook. Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Smith of Virginia Beach is one of the partners for the Richmond location. Cordish developed Live! sites in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and Hard Rocks in Hollywood and Tampa, Florida.
- Urban One: A Black-owned media conglomerate, Urban One is teaming up with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, the parent company of Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums and Colonial Downs Group, and Live Nation to propose One. The $517 million project would be the only Black-owned casino resort in the country. It is planned to have 150 hotel rooms, 90,000 square feet of gaming space, 12 bars and restaurants, a 3,000-seat theater and 50-plus acres of green space.
Next Steps in Richmond
There are three virtual public comment meetings still to come: March 30-31 and April 1.
The timeline on the Richmond economic development site for casinos lists all of the information — and a chart for residents to fill out weighing the pros and cons of the remaining proposals. There are also videos and one-page assessments of each project.