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Richmond Residents Split On Virginia Casino Project

Second Vote Will Determine Project’s Future

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Proposed Casino RenderingThe casino industry has grown immensely over the last two decades, expanding well beyond the traditional gaming meccas of Nevada and New Jersey. However, not everyone is keen to see another gambling house built in their community.

As the Virginia gaming industry grows, it appears citizens of Richmond may just reject the possibility of adding a casino in the city for the second time in three years.

After developers and their supporters spent more than $10 million to promote the plan, a poll on Oct. 23-25 found only 49% of respondents in the city of 226,000 said they’d vote for the casino with 52% voting no. That difference is within the 3.2% margin of error, but may not bode well for those banking on the project, including city officials.

Another Try At A Casino

In June, the city council gave RVA Entertainment the go-ahead on building a casino should citizens give the plan the thumbs up. A joint venture between Churchill Downs and Urban One, a media company that operates 55 radio stations and the TV One cable network, RVA has plans for a $562.5 million facility called Richmond Grand Resort Casino.

RVA and supporters have vastly outspent opponents and have staged numerous conversations with citizens about the planned casino.

“We’re engaging in real, two-way conversations with Richmonders in every neighborhood in the city, which requires resources, but it’s worth it to make sure citizens know the positive impacts of this new project and the many citywide benefits it will deliver,” Richmond Grand spokesman Michael Kelly told Axios.

As part of the approved agreement with the city, RVA plans to construct a casino and 250-room hotel. The project also includes radio, television, and film production facilities on a 97-acre site on the city’s South Side.

City officials have said the resort could generate 1,300 jobs and produce $30 million in annual local tax revenue. If the referendum passes, RVA would give the city a payout of $25.5 million and a $1 million bonus upon closing of the resort’s financing.

However, that remains an uncertainty as recent polling shows. The previous referendum failed by about 1,500 votes. Whether the second time’s the charm remains to be seen.