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Virginia Voters Reject Richmond Casino Proposal

The State's Capitol Was The Only One of Five Eligible Cities To Vote Against Casino Gaming


In 2020, Virginia voters approved the construction of casinos in Danville, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Bristol. The state capital, Richmond, was also eligible to have a referendum on the issue but decided to wait a year before having voters make the choice.

Last week, Richmond became the only eligible city in Virginia to have its citizens vote against casino gambling within its city limits.

According to a report from The Virginian-Pilot, 51.2% of the voters said ‘no’ to the initiative, while 48.8% were in favor of the referendum. It was a difference of about 1,200 votes and was a bit of a surprise result given how easily the other cities passed the initiatives a year earlier.

Last March, there were six gambling companies battling for the rights to build a casino in Richmond. Bally’s, Golden Nugget, The Cordish Companies, Urban One, and two tribes were all battling for the city’s single gaming license.

The city trimmed the field from six to three the following month with just Bally’s, Urban One and the Maryland-based Cordish Companies, which owns the LIVE!-branded casinos. Ultimately, the city’s casino advisory panel chose Urban One to build ONE Casino + Resort in Richmond.

The property was supposed to create 1,300 jobs, $25.5 million in immediate revenue to the city government, and was touted as the nation’s first and only Black-owned casino and resort. The plans for the casino included a 250-hotel room tower, a 3,000-seat theatre, 100,000 square feet of casino gaming, 15 bars and restaurants, and a 15,000-square-foot soundstage for media productions.

The company was looking to break into the gambling industry and build its first casino. The Maryland-based Urban One currently functions as a media company, owning and operating 55 radio stations and one cable network. It partnered with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment for the project and was supposed to build the property on the city’s South Side, just off Interstate 95.

“While extremely disappointed, our entire Urban One family, my mother and business partner, Cathy Hughes, and I accept the will of city of Richmond residents,” said Urban One CEO Alfred C Liggins III in a statement. “For the last two years, we have worked so hard to build a large and inclusive tent with our ONE Casino + Resort project. We had a lot of loyal supporters who worked tirelessly on behalf of this project and for whom we will be eternally grateful. We ran a robust campaign and strongly believe this is a huge missed opportunity for Richmond residents to have a tourist attraction that would have provided the financial resources to improve schools and roads as well as enrich the lives of its citizens.”