Richmond to re-vote over rejected plan of constructing casino
May 31, 2022
The majority of local voters disagreed in November 2021 to support the construction of a casino resort in Richmond, VA. But the city officials intend to hold a revote later in November hoping the voters will choose to support the casino this time. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the proposed casino can help strengthen the city. But Virginia lawmakers are not making the approval easier by potentially delaying an operating license to the casino.
Voters rejected by a slim margin, the development of a new casino worth $565 million at Walmsley Boulevard in South Richmond. The casino has a partnership with black-owned media corporation Urban One and its future casino operator Peninsula Pacific Entertainment.
Senate Finance and Appropriations and House Appropriations committees last week suggested to the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to consider the economic benefits if the casino is constructed in Petersburg instead. The committee includes language allowing delay of licensing of the casino construction in South Richmond.
The Senate also bans the referendum on Richmond's second casino in its budget version. The referendum was already approved by a Richmond judge which the Senate disagrees with.
“They can have a referendum if they want to, but we just won’t agree to issue the license,” said House Appropriations Chair Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach. Two years ago, he sponsored legislation that allowed voters to choose whether or not to legalize casino gaming in five cities, including Richmond.
Senator Joe Morrissey
The ideas of casino prohibition in Richmond are led by state senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond). Before occupying his position as Virginia’s senator, he lost the seat of Richmond’s mayor to Stoney in 2016. He said a revote is an act against democracy.
The senator actually proposed the bill to make Petersburg qualify for a casino back in February. “This certainly puts Petersburg on an inside track for getting a casino license,” he said.
Nevertheless, he failed and now he is attempting to convince other members of the legislature to add a provision to the budget bill that would prevent Richmond from holding a second casino referendum before 2023.
Richmond Circuit Court Judge Reilly Marchant has allowed Richmond a revote on the proposed casino operations. But Morrissey then ban licensing for Richmond casino until the completion of the JLARC Petersburg casino study which might be in November 2023.
The state budget agreement was already concluded as announced on Thursday by Knight and Senate Finance Chair Janet Howell, D-Fairfax. But the status of casinos and gaming issues were not addressed. But they said the budget change can interrupt in licensing casino in Richmond but it will not do so for the scheduled re-vote.
Gray machines ban
The state is currently discussing whether gray machines are legal. The gambling machines are known to result in a win through skill instead of the usual probability on other machines.
Judge Louis Lerner is one to oppose legalizing grey machines and is enforcing to ban them starting July 1. He injuncted the rule since it was unconstitutional in state law.
“We’re trying to keep the ban and there is language going into the budget about it,” said Howell who backs the ban on the machines.