In the southern American state of Virginia and the city of Richmond is reportedly set to take a second run at persuading local voters into allowing radio broadcaster Urban One to bring a $600 million casino resort to a 100-acre plot of disused land.
According to a Monday report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper, state lawmakers passed legislation in April of 2020 that gave Richmond as well as the nearby communities of Norfolk, Danville, Bristol and Portsmouth permission to host Las Vegas-style gambling facilities so long as their local populations agreed by means of individual referendums. The source detailed that the eventual plan for ‘River City’ was to have seen Urban One partner with area racetrack operator Peninsula Pacific Entertainment so as to build their envisioned One Casino and Resort and begin running the enterprise from as soon as the start of 2025.
However, the newspaper reported that Richmond voters defeated this proposition in November by a slim 49% to 51% margin to leave the community of some 227,000 people as the sole member of the five-strong club of Virginia cities to miss out on the chance of hosting a casino resort. Opponents purportedly expressed concerns at the time that such a facility could exacerbate local gambling addiction, poverty and crime concerns and potentially not bring in the anticipated $500 million in ten-year tax benefits.
Nevertheless, the newspaper reported that Richmond City Council passed a measure by an almost unanimous margin yesterday that is to see the casino question put before local voters for a second time. Proponents of this legislation purportedly disclosed that the One Casino and Resort is expected to create in the region of 1,500 full-time jobs and see the community generate additional annual tax revenues of about $30 million.
Moving forward and the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the latest referendum is to again seek voter approval for the city to ally with Urban One and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment so as to bring the One Casino and Resort to a brownfield site currently owned by Philip Morris International. The newspaper explained that plans once more call for the completed property to eventually feature a 250-room hotel and a 3,000-seat concert venue alongside a sportsbook and a 90,000 sq ft gaming floor offering a selection of 1,800 slots and 100 gaming tables in addition to a high-stakes poker room.
In an attempt to get voters behind the second casino referendum and the 40-year-old mayor for Richmond, Levar Stoney (pictured), has reportedly joined with several city council members to propose cutting the local real estate tax rate by 2%. A spokesperson for the Democrat purportedly later divulged that this move would be contingent upon voters approving the One Casino and Resort project, which would additionally see the community immediately receive a one-off payment of $25 million.
Stoney reportedly told the newspaper…
“Our residents deserve tax relief and access to good jobs and they want public infrastructure improvements and more funding for school capital projects. This project provides a unique opportunity to do just that. I know the city council is committed to creating opportunities that uplift and support all Richmond residents and I’m hopeful tonight’s vote affirms this shared commitment.”