Richmond, Va., has been presented with six casino development plans. Starting next week, the public will begin having their say as to which proposal is best suited for the capital city.
The first community session is scheduled for Tuesday, March 9, at 6 pm ET. The second public engagement meeting is March 10 at noon. Both events will be held remotely through Microsoft Teams.
During the sessions, representatives from each casino group will present the community with its plans.
Community members will learn about the community engagement process, and the community benefits a resort casino may provide,” explained the Richmond Department of Economic Development.
The meetings will also disclose how the city would use associated gaming revenues from the casino, as well as how the city plans to mitigate potential negative impacts of allowing gambling in the town.
With six casino outlines, there is a slew of information for the community to digest. To help make each presentation clearer, Richmond has instructed the casino developers to create simple, one-page pamphlets summarizing the project’s critical details.
Proposed investments range from $350 million to as high as $650 million. The Bally’s Corporation has suggested the largest overall development cost. Along with Bally’s, the other companies that have submitted casino schemes are The Cordish Companies, Wind Creek Hospitality, Urban One/Colonial Downs, Golden Nugget, and Pamunkey Indian Tribe.
Next November, Richmond residents will face a local ballot referendum asking if they wish to legalize a lone casino resort. The election question will include specific details on the project.
Following the public input meetings, the Richmond Department of Economic Development’s Evaluation Panel will select a winning casino pitch. If a simple majority of Richmond voters back the project, it will be cleared to proceed.
Richmond Economic Struggles
Richmond was one of five cities that met qualifying criteria in the state’s legalization of commercial gaming in 2020. State lawmakers and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) backed casinos in economically distressed cities, the gaming venues viewed as a catalyst for development activity.
Voters in the four other cities — Norfolk, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Danville — each signed off on the casino referendum during the November 2020 presidential election. Richmond, which received much more interest from commercial gaming operators than those cities, opted to wait a year in order to fetch the best offer.
Downtown Richmond’s surrounding neighborhoods continue to suffer. According to the US Census Bureau, more than 23 percent of Richmond people live in poverty. The median household income in 2019 was $47,250 — far lower than the national average of $68,703.
It’s why the Richmond City Council and Mayor Levar Stoney have thrown their support behind the casino, a project that is expected to generate well-paying jobs, and spur regional economic bustle.
“This is about growth,” Stoney said in December. “We want economic development, which to me is economic justice, for all of our residents.”
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