Richmond Casino’s Developer Threatens to File a Lawsuit in Virginia

Richmond Casino's Developer Threatens to File a Lawsuit in Virginia

Richmond has a proposal to construct One Casino and Resort. But its envisioned developer recently revealed that they might sue Virginia’s legislators after they passed a regulation that prevents Richmond City from proceeding with the second casino gaming referendum it had planned to conduct in November 2023.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper published a report on Thursday that reveals that the disclosure from Urban One Incorporated, a popular radio broadcaster, came a few hours after Virginia’s General Assembly passed a language in its new budget that bars the 227,000 people city from holding its second vote late next year.

Even so, the blockage requires Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin to sign the proposal. Yet, many observers claim that he hasn’t decided about it yet.

The Developer’s Plan

The state’s lawmakers passed a new law in April 2020, which gave Richmond and other communities in Bristol, Portsmouth, and Norfolk the green light to have Las-Vegas style gaming facilities. But they need to first agree with local populations through individual referendums.

The initial “River City” plan was for Urban One Incorporated to team up with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, a local racetrack operator, to build One Casino and Resort.

The $600 million project would feature a bookie, a 3,000-seat entertainment venue, and a 90,000 square feet casino. It would be on Philip Morris International’s land.

The Proposal’s Defeat

Richmond voters opposed the proposal in November 2021 by a 49 to 51 percent margin. This made the community the only member of Virginia cities’ five-strong club, and it lacked the opportunity to have its first local casino resort.

The newspaper claimed that opponents voiced their concerns at that time, saying that the resort would promote crime, poverty, and local betting addiction. Also, it would not earn the city $500 million in tax in a decade as had been predicted.

Subsequent Efforts Made

The Richmond City Council wasn’t bothered by the local community’s objection to the casino proposal. Instead, it set a measure by unanimous margin earlier this year that would have local voters take part in another casino referendum in autumn.

Levar Stoney, Richmond’s mayor, was among the campaign’s proponents. He stated that he wanted the city to hold another ballot due to it losing the forecasted $30 million in annual tax revenues.

Rising Rivalry About the Referendum

As the casino debates continued in Richmond, Petersburg started advocating for a right to use the gaming license that the Virginia Lottery Board had given Richmond. Joe Morrissey, Virginia’s Senator, led the campaign as he wants to introduce the regulation in January to recognize the community as Virginia’s fifth betting-friendly property locality.

Stoney said in a statement that the Virginia General Assembly let them down after it amended the state’s budget and denied Richmond residents an income-generating opportunity. He added that they were deliberating other legal choices available but believed that the residents shouldn’t feel disenfranchised as they wait for the second vote.

The General Assembly’s move annoyed Urban One Incorporated, and it stated that it might file a lawsuit for Richmond to hold another casino referendum. The casino’s developer city Richmond City Circuit Court Judge Reilly Marchant’s March ruling which upheld Richmond City Council’s ballot move.

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