Richmond Casino A No-Go After Voters Reject Urban One Project
The referendum vote for the Urban One Casino has finally been tallied and voters chose to reject the project plans.
This week, residents of Richmond, Virginia were asked to vote on whether or not the Urban One company should be allowed to create a casino in the city. It was expected that the vote would be close and unfortunately for proponents, the voters did not approve the project.
No Casino for Richmond
Urban One, a media conglomerate, was working with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) to create the One casino in the capital city. The plans included spending $565 million and locating the casino near I-95 close to the Philip Morris tobacco plant.
For the casino to come to fruition, voters had to approve the referendum to allow the construction. Around 15 hours after the polls closed, it was announced that the referendum was not approved. 51.4% of the voters decided to reject the proposal.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney commented after the vote was read that from the beginning, the goal was to let the people decide. The mayor said the people have spoken and the decision must be respected. Stoney was a big supporter of the project and felt that the casino would b a benefit to the city.
The mayor stated further that while he felt the casino would bring well-paying jobs, expand opportunity for the city and keep taxes low, as well as increase revenues, he is proud that the process was transparent, and the public was heavily involved.
A Backwards Process
In 2020, the state of Virginia legalized commercial gambling. However, only certain cities were allowed to have a casino, those that were considered to be facing economic hard times based on certain criteria. Five cities met the conditions, including Richmond. Also on the list was Norfolk, Danville, Portsmouth, and Bristol.
For the other four cities, the locations were able to secure approval from voters in November of last year. These cities did not try to have a plan in place first but focused on just approving a casino in general. For Richmond, the city decided to wait on the vote and have a plan in place first, essentially going about the process backwards from what the other four cities decided to do.
Richmond ended up with six proposals for a casino and it was ONE Casino + Resort by Urban One that got the greenlight. Voters were able to see what the casino would offer and then make their decision. Apparently, the plans were not enough for the majority and the vote ended up rejecting the plan.
Urban One does not have plans to give up. The company would be the first black-owned casino in the US and officials behind the project want to keep going. CEO of Urban One, Alfred Liggins, said before election day that if residents of Richmond do not want his casino, then he will just move it somewhere else.
For Liggins, he feels that the General Assembly will look to place the casino in a location near Richmond in the Central area of the state in an outlying county that will want it. He said that he does not feel that lawmakers or the governor want to leave the central area of Virginia without a casino.
After the vote, Liggins stated he was extremely disappointed, but he did accept that the decision was the will of the residents in Richmond. Once the news went public, shares of Urban One dropped considerably, even dropping as much as 40% at one point.