The citizens of Richmond will once again vote on whether a $562 million casino resort, originally proposed two years prior, will be approved. The previous vote resulted in the referendum’s failure to pass.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s new proposal follows a $10 million marketing campaign by media conglomerate Urban One and the operator of the Kentucky Derby race, Churchill Downs. This campaign was undertaken with the goal of convincing Richmond’s residents that the establishment will be beneficial to Virginia’s capital city.
The Richmond Grand Resort and Casino, as it is now named, will be built in District 79 if approved. Its premises will house a sportsbook and space for table games and slot machines. A hotel with a 250-room capacity will also open, and guests will be able to enjoy an outdoor park and various dining and beverage venues. Finally, the project will also include a concert hall that will be able to seat 3,000 guests. In total, all of these amenities, coupled with the casino and sportsbook, will result in 1,300 permanent job positions. The casino’s supporters have also highlighted how the project will contribute toward Richmond in terms of tax revenue. According to predictions, the tax revenue generated will amount to $30 million annually.
Preliminary Poll Suggests Voters Might Reject the Proposal
A poll centered around the matter was held in October by polling company co/efficient, and a little over 900 Richmond citizens participated, with 34% of voters residing in the casino’s district. As reported by ABC 8News, 49% of voters voiced their support for the project. In contrast, 52% voted firmly against the casino resort or stated that they were not likely to back the project.
Another aspect of the survey had to do with voters’ judgment of the project in the 2021 vote, with 45% of the participants saying they backed the project, while 46% answered that they rejected the proposal. The remaining 10% either did not participate in the 2021 poll, or were not certain of their vote. These results mirror the 2021 results, where a difference of just under 2% resulted in the project being rejected.
Apart from the substantial pro-casino campaign, the project does have significant opponents, with the organization “No Means No Casino” being at the center of the efforts to influence voters. One of the core arguments has to do with the fact that the previous attempt to gain voters’ support in favor of the casino failed, as shown in the 2021 vote. Anti-casino lobbyists have also emphasized problem gambling as another potential negative consequence of the casino resort’s opening.
This campaign’s supporters include Richmond Action LLC and attorney Paul Goldman, among other backers. Goldman was the target of antisemitic remarks from Preston Brown, ex-host of an Urban One radio show, due to Goldman’s involvement in the anti-casino efforts. CEO of Urban One, Alfred Liggins, issued an apology to Goldman following the incident, and Mayor Stoney condemned the remarks.