Urban One Casino Back in Contention in Petersburg
As Petersburg, Virginia makes its move to become a casino city, Urban One casino may still be on the table.
Late last year, residents in Richmond, Virginia decided to vote no on the ONE Casino + Resort by Urban One and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment. City officials choose Urban One as its provider and when the question about casino gaming was added to the ballot, voters decided it was not a good idea. The $565 million project has since been on the backburner. Nearby Petersburg is now vying for the ability to receive the casino license, so the project may still have a chance to come to fruition.
Once the Richmond casino was shot down, Senator Joe Morrissey decided it was time to look for a new city to host a casino. He feels that Petersburg is a good option, just some 20 miles from the capital city. Morrissey proposed Senate Bill 203 to qualify Petersburg for the license. The bill also seeks to stop Richmond from voting again on the matter for another five years.
The bill has made some progress, moving out of a senate subcommittee recently. It is now being held in the General Laws and Technology Committee. If it is approved, it would give the city a chance to scoop up the license and bring in large revenues to the town and state.
The senator stated this week that he does not have a preferred developer when it comes to the casino project. He was asked by Urban ONE CEO Alfred Liggins if his company would be the preferred partner and the senator said no. It seems that the bidding process would start again, still giving Urban One a shot, but bringing other companies into the mix as well.
Based on the senator’s remarks, it seems that Liggins expected Urban One to be chosen. Morrissey stated that there are no back deals going on and the process will be competitive. The senator then said that Liggins went back to Richmond and showed support for a second ballot referendum. However, if the senator’s bill passed, that won’t happen.
Richmond has struggled to join the four other cities approved for casino gaming. Each city had to hold a referendum to see if residents wanted a venue or not. In the other four, voters decided they did, though the casino was not selected yet. In Richmond, the vote did not take place until the project was figured out.
With the negative vote, many say the issue lies within the race of the casino company. Urban One would have become the first black casino owner in the United States. The majority of the no votes on the referendum came from white voters. In black communities of Richmond, the vote was yes.
The council and Mayor Levar Stoney of Richmond are working towards a second vote on the matter. The city council recently approved ordinances that all ow a second vote. Officials feel that a coordinated campaign promoting the resort benefits will help the project come to fruition.
But has Urban One missed its opportunity? Will the Richmond vote take place, or will the senators measure move the option to Petersburg? Only time will tell and it is sure to be a tight race as both cities try to hold on to the ability to obtain the last remaining casino license in the state of Virginia.