With the November 7th ballot and, respectively, both sides in the highly contended casino referendum in Richmond are doing their best to boost the funding of their last-minute campaigns.
According to reports, the developers of the proposed $562-million Richmond Grand Resort and Casino project, Urban One and Churchill Downs Inc., have made an additional contribution of $1 million, in a bid to win the referendum, bringing their total investment to almost $10 million. So far, the two companies have already invested $8.1 million to hire political strategists, advertise their project and make other “get-out-the-vote” efforts, including offering free lunches and paying for voters’ transportation to polling locations. They also organized a free concert featuring The Isley Brothers at the Hickory Hill Community Center.
Data provided by Virginia Public Access Project shows that Urban One made an additional contribution of $168,714, while Churchill Downs provided an extra $899,269 in their latest effort to get local voters’ support and emerge victorious from the upcoming casino referendum.
Project spokesperson Michael Kelly shared that the extra funding will be used to continue the groups’ efforts to hold talks with Richmond residents and tell them more about the opportunity to create 1,300 new jobs and generate fresh revenue worth millions of dollars that could be invested to expand access to childcare and other community projects.
According to preliminary estimates provided by the developers, Richmond Grand Resorts and Casino is set to generate an annual gambling tax revenue of $30 million. As revealed by city officials, an initial funding of $26 million is set to be redirected to childcare and education projects.
Opponents of the Richmond Casino Project Say It Would Only Bring More Problems for Local Communities
At the same time, the opponents of the Richmond casino project are also enhancing their efforts.
Virginia Public Access Project reported that the political action committee No Means No Casino, which is operated by political analyst Paul Goldman, has boosted its initial $150,000 campaign to $336,025. According to the political action committee (PAC), which is the largest opposition group to the casino, the developers would target vulnerable customers in the region.
The Family Foundation has also joined in the fight against the project, making an overall investment worth $131,508. The group, which is a conservative Christian organization, has harshly criticized the project through its anti-casino political action committee – the Richmond Anti-Corruption League. So far, it has used campaign funds to promote two TV adverts against the proposed casino project, along with some adverts on various digital channels. That was confirmed by the Foundation’s spokesperson, Victoria Cobb.
In 2020, local voters turned down plans for the establishment of the proposed casino by a 51% to 49% vote. Most of the votes came for the city’s South Side which is supposed to host the venue, if built. Apart from the casino, the venue will also feature a 250-room hotel, a 3,000-seat concert venue, and a 55-acre outdoor park.
Reportedly, both sides are using funds to convince more people to go to the polls and support their initiatives. Polls are set to open at 6:00 AM on November 7th.
Getting as many people to the polls has been a priority to both the supporters and the opponents of the project, especially because early voting was put at the forefront of both campaigns.