According to a Saturday report from local television broadcaster WAVY-TV, the community of 238,000 people passed a referendum in November of 2020 so as to give the Pamunkey Indian Tribe the right to bring its $500 million HeadWaters Resort and Casino development to a 13-acre site situated along the banks of the Elizabeth River. This purportedly came some seven months after Virginia lawmakers ratified a measure that allowed the cities of Norfolk, Bristol, Portsmouth and Danville to each host a Las Vegas-style casino pending voter approval.
As construction of the Norfolk venue gets underway and this same legislation reportedly also permits the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to open a temporary precursor casino with ‘limited gaming.’ The federally-recognized tribe had purportedly sought permission to bring this interim facility to an existing two-story structure adjacent to the city’s 12,000-seat Harbor Park minor league baseball stadium.
However, the language of the Norfolk referendum reportedly mandates that any temporary gambling-friendly venue must be located east of Harbor Park and within the ‘footprint where the casino will be located.’ As such and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe’s original plan is now purportedly unworkable as its HeadWaters Resort and Casino is taking shape a few hundred yards away on the site of the stadium’s expansive parking lot.
The Pamunkey Indian Tribe has reportedly revealed that it will now look to construct its temporary casino from the ground up on the site of the coming HeadWaters Resort and Casino with an estimated opening date in the spring of 2023. This decision has purportedly added two years to the project’s schedule and could well mean it premieres after the debut of the permanent Rivers Casino Portsmouth project from Rush Street Gaming, which is being built some ten miles away in the city of Portsmouth.
Jay Smith serves as a spokesperson for the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and he reportedly declared that the plan to bring the temporary casino to the site of the coming HeadWaters Resort and Casino ‘is a win for the city and will result in an even better customer experience’.
A statement from Smith reportedly read…
“The Pamunkey Indian Tribe and the city of Norfolk had explored locating the temporary facility in an underutilized area of Harbor Park because it provided a unique win-win opportunity to upgrade an ageing city-owned facility that would also benefit the community and the fans at no taxpayer expense while generating immediate revenues for the city.”