Casino Proposal Returns to Ballot in Richmond, Virginia

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Mayor Levar Stoney delivers a State of the City of Richmond address to members of the City Council. Image taken from City of Richmond, VA Government's official Facebook page.

The Virginia Lottery has approved another opportunity for Richmond, Virginia voters to determine whether a fifth casino, with plans to include Virginia sports betting, should be built in their city.

Another Bite at the Apple

Richmond voters will decide the fate of a proposed joint venture between Churchill Downs Incorporated and Urban One that would bring a casino to their city. The measure was sent to the ballot boxes in November 2021 only to be defeated by 1500 votes or 51% of the electorate.

The Richmond City Council, with approval by the Virginia Lottery, voted to approve a preliminary application and the Richmond Circuit Court gave its blessing to bring the question to the voters. Expectations are high that the citizens of Richmond will bring a casino to their city of nearly 230,000 this time around.

“Here in the city of Richmond, we are 90% residential and 10% commercial,” Councilwoman Ann-Frances Lambert said. “At the end of the day, if we want to be so much like Henrico, we have to say yes to projects.”

“We are ready to elevate our 20-plus relationship with Richmonders by presenting opportunities for real economic impact,” said Alfred Liggins, CEO of Urban One. “We […] are talking to local leaders and citizens about the kinds of entertainment options, jobs, and community benefits they want to see included in this project.”

Churchill Downs CEO Excited for Richmond Expansion

Upon hearing the news, Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated, said, “Churchill Downs has been proudly providing our guests extraordinary entertainment experiences for 150 years, beginning with the iconic Kentucky Derby.”

“Our company has proven success in the development and operations of premier entertainment, gaming, and racing venues that deliver tangible and meaningful benefits for our host communities. We look forward to delivering on this mission and vision in Richmond,” Carstanjen added.

I believe the citizens should have an opportunity to vote on this next time,” City Councilor Mike Jones said. “You can’t compare the deal. There is no comparison to this deal. There just isn’t.”

Economic Boost

The $562.5 million hotel and casino project is slated to be located in South Richmond near Commerce Road and will feature slots, table games, a retail sportsbook, and other elements to cater to gambling in Virginia. Fine dining restaurants and a live entertainment venue will complement the gaming options and 55 acres of land will be devoted to green space.

The specific plans have yet to be unveiled by the developer of the project, RVA Entertainment Holdings, but they should be forthcoming over the next several weeks. If approved by the voters, the economic impact is expected to be immediate, bringing 1300 jobs and a projected $30 million in tax revenue to the city.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney voiced his enthusiasm when he said: “I am excited to see the Virginia Lottery and the Richmond Circuit Court approve the referendum for a Richmond destination resort and entertainment venue that will provide 1,300 good-paying jobs and an estimated $30 million in annual revenue to tackle our community’s greatest needs.”

Richmond is experiencing record development and growth, and with the addition of a destination resort we will change the economic trajectory of Southside for years to come,” said the mayor.