Richmond’s Anticipated Casino Vote Is Uncertain

Richmond’s Anticipated Casino Vote Is Uncertain

A nonprofit in Richmond, Virginia will soon attend an appeal hearing in court against a gaming referendum. ONE Casino + Resort, a new casino project in the city, faced another obstacle on Tuesday after a judge allowed a nonprofit to argue its lawsuit against the gaming project’s ballot.

Judge William R. Marchant from the Richmond Circuit Court changed his mind after approving the casino referendum’s plan a few weeks ago. He suspended the July 25 order he initially gave to allow Richmond and the nonprofit to present their arguments in court. WRIC, a local media station, reports that the two sides are anticipating the court’s ruling on the issue.

The move was after Lodge No.1 of the Good Lions sought permission to intervene in the dispute. It operates charitable bingo games in Richmond.

Last month, Marchant signed off the city’s plan to hold a vote urging residents to support the $500 million casino resort. Yet, they rejected a similar gaming project in 2021.

Richmond’s lawyers and the Good Lions can present their legal arguments on the issue on or before Friday. WRIC reported that Marchant stated that he will make a ruling on the arguments before August 23.

What About the Vote’s Schedule?

Marchant reiterated that his ruling on Lion’s arguments won’t prevent the casino question from being included in the upcoming November vote. But, it can interfere with the ongoing plans if the nonprofit prevails on merits.
In their defense, the Good Lions claimed that the city’s council and mayor broke the state’s regulation when they continued the gaming property’s plan without assessing other operator’s proposals.

The Lions Club International’s chapter regularly organized charitable gaming tournaments at the bingo parlor claiming that if a new gaming company ventures into the local market, it will adversely affect the club’s operations. Its assertion got backed by an analysis that Virginia sponsored on gaming’s potential.

Is There an Existing Contract?

RVA Entertainment Holdings LLC had been contracted to develop the casino resort. Still, the company was also chosen in 2021 after undergoing a strict bidding process.

Even so, firms that were expected to kick off the gaming project changed. Churchill Downs Incorporated and Urban One got into the bidding process. The latter is a successful media firm that is based in Baltimore.

Wirt P. Marks, Richmond’s Senior Assistant City Attorney represented it in the latest hearing. The lawyer stated that the city ought not to undergo the bidding process since the gaming venue will be developed on private land.

A Good Lions’ attorney refuted Marks’ assertion stating that bidding was a vital component in the process since residents need to support the casino project. Still, Marchant hinted that the charity might consider making an injunction request instead of seeking intervention in the lawsuit. But, Christopher Robertson, the Good Lions’ lawyer informed WRIC they might consider an injunction later.

If the city wins the case, its residents will vote on the casino issue on November 7, 2023. The project’s supporters believe it will offer 1,300 job opportunities.

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