On November 3rd, residents of Danville, Virginia will be asked to vote on a ballot referendum. If passed, Caesars Entertainment would begin building a new casino and hotel in the city.
Earlier this year, Virginia lawmakers approved an expanded gaming law, allowing for the construction of five new casinos. Each of these projects must first be approved by the local residents, and the debate has started to heat up in recent weeks.
Caesars Entertainment recently unveiled a list of more than 100 local businesses that support this referendum in hopes of getting support from voters. The Danville City Council previously awarded Caesars the $400 million bid, but it’s clear that businesses in the city want to see this happen as well.
Pete Hairston, owner of Bro Pete’s restaurant in Danville is one of the local leaders that supports this project. Hairston is hoping that a new casino will attract visitors to the area, and those tourists will then spend money at other locations.
The Dan River textile complex has been proposed as the future site of this new project from Caesars. Caesars has agreed to pay at least $5 million annually to the city of Danville, but the company will also be paying a tax on all gaming revenue.
At this point in time, it is unclear which way voters are leaning, which is why both sides have started to bolster campaigning efforts in recent weeks.
Huge Boost For Economy
One of the reasons that Danville was awarded a new casino is due to the state of the local economy. This new project will provide a number of different forms of relief, with jobs being one of the most important.
If this project is approved, the construction portion of the deal will bring more than 900 new jobs to the region. Once complete, the casino will be looking to hire close to 1,300 full-time employees to work there.
The per capita income for Danville residents in 2019 was just $22,000, or around $11.50 per hour. These full-time jobs would be paid a minimum of $15 per hour, making a huge change to the income levels in the city.
Caesars is using the value of adding jobs to a low-income city as a way to earn support ahead of the November 3 vote. Other casino projects throughout the state of Virginia are using similar strategies to sway voters.
If this project is approved, a four-star hotel would be included in the project, and the property would come with more than 300 rooms. A 2,500 seat entertainment venue is also part of the plan, and that could be used to host concerts or other performances.
Opposition Highlighting Real Estate Values
Groups that are opposed to seeing this new casino be built in Danville are pointing to a number of different arguments. Currently, a group is trying to sway voters by pointing out that new casino projects lower real estate evaluations.
Similar arguments have been made in other parts of the country, but at least one Danville realtor is out to discredit this theory. Hampton Wilkins owns Wilkins & Co Realtors, which is one of the largest firms in the region.
Wilkins points out that a new casino will increase tourism for the area, and that will then make the region more valuable. Danville has looked for ways to increase tourism in the past, and this new casino project is the perfect solution.
There are at least four other major real estate companies supporting the referendum on November 3, and they believe that an increase in tourism can only benefit Danville. These companies are: James Sparks Rental Properties, Marshall Apartment Rentals, Red Door Properties, and Rick Barker Properties.