Richmond voters to get one more chance to vote on a casino referendum later this year
Richmond voters will get one more chance to vote on a casino referendum later this year, thanks to state policymakers who voted 10-6 in favor of the referendum. In its most recent meeting held a couple of days back, the Virginia State Senate’s Finance & Appropriations Committee killed the bill that would have blocked Richmond from holding a second casino referendum, while allowing Petersburg to hold a referendum for the same. The bill, which was placed by the House of Delegates, wanted to prevent a referendum in Richmond, but the state’s laws support it.
In 2022, Richmond was blocked from conducting referendum for the second time, after local residents voted against the casino proposal. The collapse of the referendum prompted many to suggest that the capital city’s gaming license should be transferred to some other city, such as Petersburg.
A study conducted by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC) found that both cities could profitably accommodate casinos. The study also found that a casino in Petersburg would be profitable, even if Richmond also builds a casino.
The Virginia State Senate’s Finance & Appropriations Committee’s decision is a really a setback for Petersburg, as the City Council made a deal with The Cordish Companies in October last year. The Petersburg City Council and Baltimore-based commercial real estate company wanted to open a Live Casino & Hotel Resort. Cordish planned to spend $1.4 billion to build a new gambling-friendly property with a hotel and spacious parking garage. Equipped with several additional entertainments, the planned 90-acre property would provide a boost to the state’s economy by producing nearly two thousand jobs for people in addition to generating a new stream of tax revenue for the state exchequer.
Cordish CEO Zed Smith said, “Our $1.4 billion urban revitalization project would be transformational for Petersburg, with 4,000 new jobs and millions of dollars in additional local and state tax revenue. As the General Assembly continues its deliberations, we hope the state’s elected leaders will explore every avenue to help provide this major economic development boost to Petersburg.”
Despite the setback, Cordish wants to proceed with its envisioned casino in Petersburg. The company is trying to start fresh negotiations with state lawmakers in order to adjust the funds that received from the government.