Campaigners who have lobbied against the $52-million Richmond Grand Resort and Casino project claimed that the supporters of the planned venue are using tricks and dexterity to gain local voters’ support ahead of Election Day on November 7th.
These allegations have been denied by the project developers.
The founder of the No Means No Casino committee, Paul Goldman, said that the planned casino establishment was not in the best interest of Richmon and its residents, and such a move was exploitation, so it was not going to build a future for the city. Earlier this week, Mr. Goldman, along with the executive director of Initiatives of Change USA – Allan-Charles Chipman – and Ellie Pruitt, a member of Students Against Unconscionable Casino Exploitation, held a meeting with representatives of the editorial board of The Times-Dispatch.
A week ago, the board met with supporters of the casino and its developers – Churchill Downs and Urban One.
Although Goldman has been against the establishment of the proposed casino venue, he noted that the supporters of the project still have the right to place the measure on the upcoming ballot, as long as this was done correctly and in line with constitutional rules and regulations.
Other Four Cities in Virginia Already Approved Casino Projects
In 2020, the General Assembly of Virginia made casino gambling legal in Richmond, Danville, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Norfolk. Voters in the other four cities gave the green light to their local casino projects in November 2020, leaving Richmond the only one of the five cities that has not moved forward with the plans for now.
One of the proposed Richmond casino project developers – Urban One – have been hopeful that Richmond would follow suit and approve the plans. Unfortunately, the project was rejected by 51% of local voters at a referendum that took place in November 2021.
The supporters of the Richmond Grand Resort and Casino project tried to get another chance to get the necessary approval, and eventually, the Richmond City Council put it on the November 2023 ballot with an eight-to-one vote in June. So far, the casino project supporters have spent about $8 million to lobby in favor of the proposed casino resort.
Richmond Casino Developers Highlight the Project’s Economic Benefits for the City
As mentioned above, this time, Urban One is partnering with Churchill Downs, a Kentucky-based horse racing, gaming and entertainment firm. The two companies rebranded the initial development project and presented new plans for the establishment.
According to the developers, the project will have a beneficial effect on Richmond’s economic development, not to mention it is expected to create 1,300 new jobs with an average salary of $55,000. The proposal includes not only a casino, but also a 250-room luxury hotel, a 3,000-seat concert hall, and a 55-acre park, and is expected to bring annual tax revenue of approximately $30 million, $26 million of which would be redirected to early childhood care.
The opponents of the Richmond Grand Resort and Casino project, however, questioned how the developers would be able to build the casino at the price point of $562 million, especially at times of raised inflation and increasing interest rates.