All billboards advertising a new casino in Richmond might be gone. But, the hope of launching one is still there among the city’s residents. On Monday night, Richmond City Council members voted to pass one resolution and two ordinances to revive the Urban ONE casino project.
Only one council member, Katherine Jordan, who was also in opposition to the casino last year, did not vote to revive the casino project. Resolution 2022-R003 refers to choosing RVA Entertainment Holdings as the city’s preferred casino gaming operator. This resolution also describes that the casino would open at 2001 Walmsley Boulevard and 4700 Trenton Avenue.
Obstacles Facing the Upcoming Referendum
Following the failed referendum in November 2021, Councilwoman Reva Trammell has campaigned to bring another referendum this year. City officials proposed a two-cent tax rate reduction, something Reva confirmed was always in discussion.
Reva also noted that people did not understand fully how the casino revenue would help residents. She added that the $25 million would go to the 8th District and every other person across the city.
Reva referred to the $25.2 million that Urban ONE had promised to pay for development in the city. But, Richard Meagher, a political analyst at 8News, commented that a tax reduction for Richmond residents would be an option.
Richard insists that the voters’ decision was evident in November. He added that there was a sense that wealthier white residents were against the casino while most black residents voted in favor.
According to Trammell, voters did not realize that the casino development funds would not come from their taxes. They did not understand that Urban ONE would finance the project.
However, Allan-Charles Chipman had a different opinion. He once wanted to become the city council for district 6. He argues that a new casino would lead to economic exploitation.
Chipman noted he had been hurt by gambling addiction. He pointed out that the casino supporting council members were pitching racial inequity as the reason for November’s referendum failure.
However, he believes the fundamental racial injustice is suggesting Southside cannot flourish without a casino. Chipman believes Richmond should grow while retaining its dignity without a casino. Meanwhile, Ann-Frances Lambert, who previously did not support a Richmond casino, seemed to have changed her stand. Lambert said her change followed the improved details on the casino project.
Lambert’s previous worry was increased property taxes and gun violations. On Tuesday evening, she gave a statement explaining her vote in favor of reviving the project was because of the new deal, including a 2 cent reduction in property taxes.
Final Decision is on Voter’s Hands
Lambert noted Richmond was one of the hottest real estate markets on the east coast. While the government did not control that, she feels tax relief on properties could benefit every household.
Ann-Frances believes the decision should be put in voters’ hands. She notes this option was not available during the referendum last November, and a new referendum would give them a chance to decide that.
Last year, 50.95 percent of residents voted against ONE Casino + Resort. The difference with the voters in support was 1,500 ballots.
Trammell believes people voted the casino project down because they could not fully understand it. She noted the project would benefit every resident, explaining that good tax money would finance drainage, infrastructure, and other projects.
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