It’s a turbulent period for the Virginia casinos. The good news is that voters in Richmond will be able to vote once again on a referendum later this year, which was decided on Thursday. The results were 10-6 in favor of the referendum. 

However, things aren’t so great for voters in Petersburg. They won’t have a chance to vote for the casino approval, which has been planned for the fall.

The bill is declined:

The Virginia State Senate’s Finance and Appropriations Committee decided against the bill that the House of Delegates placed, so the referendum won’t be held. Also, they wanted to prevent a referendum in Richmond, but the laws support it, so the referendum will most likely be held. 

Last year, the referendum in Richmond was blocked. The state ordered a study conducted by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), and then it was found that both cities could support the casino openings.

The majority of Petersburg officials supported the bill. It wasn’t unexpected since the Petersburg City Council made a deal with The Cordish Cos in October. The Council and the commercial real estate company from Baltimore wanted to open a Live! Casino & Hotel resort. Cordish planned to spend about $1.4 billion on a new casino with a hotel and parking garage. Many additional entertainments were planned to be placed on the 90-acre property as well. It would greatly impact the state’s economy since the casino, and its surrounding area may produce about 1,800 direct jobs for the residents. 

However, a company from Maryland gave up on the idea, saying that they wanted to build a casino only if it could be built in both Petersburg and Richmond.

Cordish continues to fight:

Cordish still wants to proceed – the company is trying to continue negotiations in the state legislature. The plan is to adjust the budgets it gets from the House and the Senate, which can lead to Petersburg’s referendum.

Chief Operating Officer at Cordish, 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.”

However, in Richmond, the bill isn’t supported. The law prescribes only one casino building in five areas: Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond. The law was passed when commercial casinos were legalized three years ago.

What decided in favor of the bill was that Cordish would pay a wage required by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Louise Lucas, one of the greatest supporters of casino legalization, said: “When we started down this path, we all agreed that we will be more methodical about the way we go about establishing casinos in the commonwealth of Virginia.”