At a time when Richmond prepares to vote on a referendum regarding the proposed $562-million casino in November, the casino developers shared more details with the media.
Earlier this week, key casino officials held a meeting with media hub representatives to provide more details about the potential impact on the region, including some risks and how they plan to mitigate them. Apart from that, they commented on the criticism and concerns that the casino will eventually result in the economic downfall of other local businesses and raise criminal and other unlawful activity in the community.
The equal owners of the planned casino – Urban One and Churchill Downs – compared the restrictions they are facing as part of the approval process to the popular but still unregulated skill games that are considered a form of gambling. The CEO of Churchill Downs, William Carstanjen, noted that he did not understand the “tired” arguments for not pursuing the casino development, especially considering the fact that the skill games have not been eradicated despite being illegal.
The truth is that it is not at all hard to find a skill game literally anywhere in the city. The controversial terminals appeared in the state in 2019 and were promoted as a way to essentially play slot games. Estimates have shown that as of 2022, there were a total of 9,000 skill games in the state of Virginia.
Skill Games Recognized as a Form of Gambling, Critics Say
By 2020, the General Assembly of Virginia began making attempts to suspend skill machines from local stores as unregulated gambling terminals. Then, the machine operators disagreed with the measures and tried to push them back claiming that the terminals featured an element of skill that pretty much differentiated them from gambling.
As previously explained by CasinoGamesPro, the skill machines essentially operate like digital slot terminals. Once they spin the wheel, customers can click on the ones they would like to keep and choose the ones to keep spinning. However, experts have warned that the games are programmed in a way that would only display winning numbers a small percentage of the time, which basically creates an illusion of skills being required for the win to be generated.
While facing a lot of criticism for offering a form of gambling that is unstudied and unregulated, businesses offering such services have said that outlawing and banning the skill machines would cause a massive revenue loss. At first, a compromise was reached, with skill machine operators being forced to pay a tax of $1,200 per machine every month, with the tax expected to generate solid tax revenue before eventually fully banning them.
After a long period of court battles and injunctions, the Supreme Court of Virginia reinstated the state ban on the service. Now, Churchill Downs’ CEO shared there were always two sides of the same coin and reminded that, normally, gambling created many jobs for local residents and was a source of tax revenue. He does not understand some of the fears associated with the proposed Richmond casino establishment and explained that the benefits for the city would be a lot more than the possible risks.