New Law Seeks to Add 6th Qualifying Casino Town in Virginia
New legislation is in the works to bring a casino to a 6th town in Virginia, meanwhile Richmond still fighting for its gaming venue.
In 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam approved a measure that allowed five cities to vote on commercial casino developments. So far, four of the five cities are approved and working on getting the venues up and running. Richmond decided to have a plan in place before allowing residents to vote, but unfortunately, the 2021 vote was against the Urban One plan. Now, it seems legislation is in the works to see casino gaming added to a 6th city.
Bring a Casino to Petersburg
Currently, Norfolk, Danville, Portsmouth, and Bristol are getting ready to launch casinos. Richmond voters decided they did not want to see the $565 million ONE Casino + Resort by Urban One and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment to come to fruition. The casino was set to be constructed on land located near Philip Morris.
Senator Joe Morrissey is now looking to introduce legislation that will allow voters located in Petersburg to decide if a casino license should go there instead of Richmond, the capital city of the state. In 2020, when the casino bill was considering locations, Petersburg narrowly missed out.
Cities were supposed to show economic strain like a decline in population of 20% or more from 1990 to 2016. Petersburg did not meet the criteria. However, Morrissey feels that the city being located near Richmond, just 20 miles away, will provide benefits for both towns if a casino is allowed.
Samuel Parham, the mayor of Petersburg, is supportive of the potential legislation. He feels that such as change would transform the city.
What About Richmond?
With the gaming bill, Morrissey plans to stop Richmond from holding a second vote regarding a casino property. Council member Reva Trammell of Richmond has been trying to see a second vote held so that hopefully voters would approve the option this year. Morrissey has spoken out against the efforts by Trammell and now it makes sense. He wants to bring the casino license to Petersburg.
Trammell says that southside voters want the casino to come to Richmond, however their voices were not heard due to racial and geographic voting issues. Exit polling involving white voters in the affluent neighborhoods of the city showed that the votes were 2-1 against the property.
Morrissey will most likely see Trammell fight his new legislative effort as well as Urban One. The company is not ready to give up on its plans. CEO Alfred Liggins stated that his company wants the license and are hoping to still receive it. The company could try to block the Petersburg effort via lobbying moves.
Some see the vote in Richmond as a good thing, particularly for Norfolk and Portsmouth. It has been estimated that if the Richmond project does not take place, it would help the casinos being adding to the two above cities. More gamblers would avoid the capital city and then travel to the two cities to play slots and table games.
Voters in Norfolk approved a casino titled HeadWaters, a venue that has a $500 million price tag. The casino will be added next to Habor Park, the city’s minor league baseball stadium. The Pamunkey Indian Tribe and Jon Yarbrough are behind this project.
Rush Street Gaming is working with Portsmouth to create the Rivers Casino Portsmouth for $300 million. The project will be located adjacent to the Tidewater Community College. It will be interesting to see if this new legislation gains any headway and if the two casinos may have nearby competition in the future or if they will remain the best gambling options for this section of the state.