The Richmond City Council backed another November casino referendum in Monday's vote. Mike Jones, the council's President, spearheaded the new casino's approval in Richmond.
Council members voted 8-1 hence offering Richmond residents an opportunity to approve a $500 million gaming venue in the southern region. Still, they shot down another casino ballot in 2021.
The project's proponents supported Church Downs and Urban One's gaming plans. They intend to develop a resort-style complex with fine dining, entertainment, a spa, and a hotel. Southern Richmond hasn't developed a lot of late.
Jones said that many Southside residents occasionally go to that section of the city. Yet, few discussions have taken place about this issue hence reducing the region's chances of getting a half-a-billion-dollar project.
The President clarified that he was stating facts rather than condemning that region. He said that the deal will transform Southern Richmond.
The Huge Gaming Investment
Richmond residents rejected a casino plan in the city in 2021 and voted 51 percent to 49 percent. Yet, its supporters claimed that its campaign wasn't efficient as it didn't inform residents about the economic benefits the community would get including jobs.
Some critics started moralistic arguments that Jones turned down, saying that people who want to wager will get an alternative. He added that he would "get the money locally" instead of allowing players to travel to Petersburg, which has a rival casino proposal.
The President hinted that the casino's opponents will have to make more "dog whistles," claiming that various things violate the city's gaming laws.
What Does the Public Think?
The city's residents gave the Richmond City Council supporting and opposing opinions about the casino on Monday. Debbie Rowe opposed the gaming plan claiming that council members shouldn't hold another ballot after the 2021 referendum.
She stated that their vote should remain and that having another ballot will cause friction in the area. Rowe said that the city's leaders ought to focus on more urgent issues like homelessness and gun violence rather than gaming.
Churchill Downs holds the Kentucky Derby, and it acquired Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) which was Urban One's initial partner in the gaming project. Still, it supported the casino proposal.
Jason Saure, Churchill Downs Senior Vice President, informed the city's council that they have collaborated with several local firms. Besides, they are constructing gaming venues in Cincinnati and Chicago. The company is partnering with a Richmond team on the casino proposal, and Saure believes that their collaboration will last for long.
What Is the Casino Plan's Fate?
The casino's supporters are likely to face a few challenges before the November referendum. State gaming regulators and local courts need to sign off the arrangement first. But, the project's opponents are determined to influence the state Legislature to reject it.
Virginia Senator Joe Morrissey (D) is opposing the Richmond referendum to enable Petersburg to host a new casino soon. He wants the lawmakers to pass a budget before July 1, including language for blocking a new gaming ballot as they did in 2022.