Potential Second Chance for Failed Richmond Casino Plan

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City Councilwoman Reva Trammell is making a push to have another referendum in an attempt to bring a casino to Richmond, Virginia. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Calls for a second referendum

A failed casino plan in Richmond, Virginia might get a second chance. Richmond City Councilwoman Reva Trammell is planning to submit a resolution on Monday that would call for another referendum. City residents voted against the Urban One casino project during the November elections. If the measure had gotten approval, it would have permitted the development of a casino on the southside of Richmond.

After the introduction of the resolution this coming Monday, the matter will then be subject to a public hearing. There will be no vote on the issue during the Richmond City Council meeting next week. If there is eventually a vote by the city council that approves the resolution, then there would once again be a host community agreement in place between the city and the Urban One subsidiary RVA Entertainment Holdings, LLC.

he would look to block a further referendum on the issue for the next five years

Senator Joe Morrissey recently said that he would look to block a further referendum on the issue for the next five years. He has drafted a bill to this effect, saying “We have to respect the democratic vote.” Morrissey reportedly supports the plan to bring a casino to Petersburg, about 25 miles south of Richmond, instead.

Possible interest elsewhere

If there is a second referendum and it ultimately gets approval, the casino project would be in Councilwoman Trammell’s district. Not long after voters rejected the idea, Trammell started to obtain signatures in order to have another referendum on the matter. During the election in November, Trammell’s 8th district was slightly in favor of the casino project.

Urban One is a media company that has radio stations in big cities on the east coast. It also owns a minority stake in Maryland’s MGM National Harbor casino.

There is no indication as to whether or not Urban One still has an interest in attempting to develop a Richmond casino. Officials in Petersburg reportedly were willing to enter negotiations with Urban One regarding a potential collaboration following the Richmond referendum in November.

The road to rejection

There was more than $1m put into the pre-referendum advertising campaign in support of the One Casino and Resort project. Activists also campaigned extensively against the project, questioning if the promised economic benefits were realistic, in addition to concerns about potential higher levels of gambling addiction. In the end, about 51% of Richmond voters pulled the lever against the idea.

Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville, and Bristol previously approved the casino projects

The referendum in Richmond was the final one out of five held regarding the development of casinos in five Virginia cities. Residents in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville, and Bristol previously approved the casino projects in their respective cities.

The Richmond City Council had chosen Urban One from a number of applicants. The final decision was between Urban One and The Cordish Companies. If the referendum got approval, the plan was for the $565m One Casino and Resort to open in October 2024. Proponents of the casino spoke about the significant economic impact it would have on the region, as well as the 1,000 or so jobs it would create.

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