Voters in Virginia Approve Commercial Casinos
Four cities in Virginia voted yes for commercial casinos, with operators like Hard Rock and Caesars set to enter the state.
Across the US, citizens are waiting with bated breath to see if it will be four more years of Donald Trump as president or if new life will enter the White House with Joe Biden. The votes are still being tabulated, so who will win is still a mystery. However, other results are in and we know that in Virginia, four cities have approved commercial casino gaming. With at least 65% in favor or higher, Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth and Norfolk all approved casinos. Richmond is a fifth city that must consider the option, but it is expected for a 2021 ballot.
Bring on Commercial Gaming
In Virginia, cities that met the qualifying criteria to be a host for a casino were allowed to place a referendum on the ballot for consideration. These cities all met economic criteria, showing they are struggling financially and in need of help.
The cities that were chosen had to have an unemployment rate of 5% back in 2018 and a poverty rate of 20% or higher from 2017. The population must have decreased from 1990 to 2016 by at least 20%. All of this criterion was met by the five cities mentioned.
Major Brands Coming
With the approval, major brands are coming to Virginia. For the city of Bristol, the City Council has approved Hard Rock International as its casino gaming partner. The company will spend $400 million to create a casino resort in a former mall location.
The vote was overwhelming in favor of the project, with citizens wanting to see Hard Rock bring its expected 2,000 jobs once the venue is up and running. It is expected that the casino will generate at least $15 million in tax revenues for Bristol.
The casino will be quite large, featuring 2,700 slot games and a sportsbook, along with 100 table games. A hotel will be constructed on-site that will include 350 guest rooms. A Hard Rock Café is also in the plans along with retail space and more.
In Danville, the plans include working with Caesars Entertainment. The former Dan River Mills industrial complex will be used at the casino and hotel home, with $400 million invested to create the property. Caesars has made many promises to the city in their deal, including buying an ambulance and firetruck for Danville, hiring 1,300 people at $15 an hour and paying $15 million up front.
Additional Casino Approvals
Two other cities approved casinos during this week’s ballot. For Norfolk, over 65% of the townspeople approved the referendum. With the approval, John Yarbrough, a businessman from Tennessee, will be working with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to construct a $500 million property.
The complex will include a casino and hotel as well as dining options, a spa and entertainment facility. It is expected that the property will bring up to $31 million in taxes to the region. As many as 6.2 million visitors are expected to visit the property each year.
Portsmouth also approved a casino proposal, giving Rush Street Gaming the ability to create a casino in the region. As much as $300 million will be spent to create the casino that will be named Rivers Casino Portsmouth. The casino will be placed in a new Entertainment District in the city.
Throughout the process of adding the referendum to the ballots and voting, religious groups have come out in opposition to the plans. Churches and faith leaders tried to lead a charge in opposition so that voters would not approve the casinos. However, that did not come to pass.
The churches who came out against the proposals are now saying they are not happy with the outcome and feel that gambling will hurt people in the state.