Next Phase of Richmond Casino Project Begins

As last week came to an end, the Resort Casino Evaluation Panel in Richmond, Virginia announced that the next phase of the selection process for a casino plan has begun. The group met to review proposals and have steadily been narrowing down the potential candidates to eventually come to one provider. The group will continue to narrow down its selection this month and make its final decision before June.

Eliminating the Competition

A request for proposals was made and potential candidates had from December 2020 to February 2021 to provide a plan. The city saw six bids, one from Bally’s Corporation, the Golden Nugget, The Cordish Companies, Urban One, Wind Creek Hospitality, and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

The group narrowed down the six to three, leaving Bally’s, The Cordish Companies, and Urban One remaining. Bally’s was soon removed as their plan was steeped with controversy due to the location of its planned casino.

Now, only The Cordish Companies and Urban One remain. It appears as though Urban One might win out, as Cordish has been subject to criticism as well. The Cordish plan will place a casino in a former movie theater and local residents are not happy about it. The locals are worried about how the area will be once a casino is operation.

Now, the panel is in the negotiation phase of the project. This is the final phase and will see the panel choose either Cordish or Urban One. The winning bid will be sent to Mayor Levar Stoney and it is expected that the panel will make its choice by the end of this month.

Once a plan has been chosen, the idea will be placed on the November ballot. It will list the operator and chosen locations. Voters will then be able to decide if they want Richmond to be able to host a casino and if they are approving of the chosen plan.

Will a Legal Matter Slow Things Down?

As mentioned earlier, the Golden Nugget was a bidder early on in the process. Their plan was rejected and the company has now decided to sue the city based on the process of selection. Bet on Gaming Holdings is a company working with Golden Nugget on the Richmond project. A partner and principal of the company, Dennis Cotto, is also an attorney, who says that the city did not act accordingly with its rejection.

He says when bids have been made in the past, a debriefing is provided alongside any rejection. In the case of this recent decision, the Golden Nugget was not provided a debriefing and was not given the chance to readdress or appeal the decision by the panel.

It is expected that the attorney will file a lawsuit in local circuit court this month. If there is any pending litigation on the matter, the project may not be able to move forward. A legal battle would be very disruptive.

If the proposal recommended by the panel is approved, then it must be reviewed by the state lottery. A court order must also be secured for the casino plan to be placed on the upcoming ballot.

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Conor Stack
Conor is one of our main writers on USGS focusing on a wide range of industry coverage across sports, casino and poker.