Virginia allows Petersburg to conduct study on new casino's revenue
June 3, 2022
The state lawmakers of Virginia in the House and Senate just granted Petersburg a chance to prove its capability to operate a new casino in the city. The budget amendment on Wednesday said it will fund the study to find out the possible revenue collected if a casino is constructed in Petersburg. They chose Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to conduct the research.
The decision leads to Richmond’s inability to hold a revote on the casino construction supposed to be held in November this year. It will not be possible for the referendum to be held until the study is completed, which is expected to happen in November 2023. The city just earned a step back of having another casino in the city.
Mayor of Petersburg Sam Parham and Senator Joe Morrissey of the 16th district held a joint press conference on Thursday morning in the event center of the Petersburg Library. They expressed their support and praised the budget language which was recently passed by the lawmakers.
“We’ve already had preliminary discussions with six or seven casino operators,” said Sen. Morrissey. “Next year, when we have the JLARC study done, we will then introduce legislation that Petersburg gets the casino.”
“I would say, respectfully, to the leaders in Richmond that it is time for you to move on,” said Sen. Morrissey. “The benefits of a casino to Petersburg far, far outweigh the benefits to Richmond.”
Mayor Parham is also happy with the amendment. He said the casino will bring more job opportunities and will boost the economy in the city of Petersburg.
“This is not something that we just trying to bring in just for the industry to have a flag here,” Mayor Parham said. “This is about transforming the City of Petersburg and for our love and passion for our city and what we want it to look like for many decades to come.”
Richmond intended to build a casino so they asked the voters whether they liked the idea. The casino named ONE Casino + Resort will be backed by the media company Urban One with a budget of $562.5 million.
The first vote held in November last year ended in failure as the majority chose not to build a casino in the city. Richmond intended to hold another vote later this year hoping the outcome will be different. The request for a referendum was granted by a judge last March. But the effort might be for naught given the recently passed budget amendment.
In a joint statement, Urban One and the City of Richmond express their disagreement with the amendment. They said the “retroactive budget language” looks to “unconstitutionally invalidate a final Court Order,” and they will bring this to court.
Mayor Levar Stoney was disappointed with the decision, saying, “we are still assessing our legal options, but remain firm in our belief that the citizens of Richmond should not be disenfranchised just months before they would have the opportunity to vote.”
Morrissey said on the possibility of the problem going to court “If the mayor, if he is desirous, and wants to fight in court, fine. Wouldn’t be the first time he’s wasted City of Richmond funds to fight a losing battle. We’re going to win that if it goes to court.”