The Virginia General Assembly started the 2023 session on January 11 thus intensifying the casino battle between the two cities. Levar Stoney, Richmond Mayor stated that his city is determined to hold another casino referendum in November. He presented the letter to Richmond Assembly's delegation urging them to oppose any legislation which wants to constrict Richmond's rights to get the casino.
Stoney said in the letter that he will ensure the city's residents get an opportunity to back the referendum this year. A few Petersburg casino proponents told Richmond and Stoney a day later to allow Petersburg to take its shot.
Senator Joe Morrisey, one of the proponents, informed the media that the mayor's letter can be compared to the former U.S. President Donald Trump's refusal to accept losing the 2020 U.S. Presidential elections. He added that he will tell Stoney to get out of the way and give Petersburg citizens a chance to vote on a casino referendum.
He reminded the mayor that he lost the 2021 casino referendum after RVA voted no. Morrisey emphasized this by capitalizing "no" and "lost."
Richmond Voters' Opinion About the Casino
The Virginia General Assembly gave five cities a green light in 2020 to ask residents whether they wanted to allow casino gaming to boost their economies. Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville, and Bristol were four of the cities that supported the casino measures and voted "yes."
Richmond's casino measure lost a referendum in November 2021 as 51 percent of the residents opposed Urban One's $565 million casino proposal. The media company wanted to build a hotel and casino in South Richmond near Philip Morris USA.
Richmond officials and Stoney claimed that the referendum lost to the project's misinformation and opposition from other areas outside the 8th district that would host the proposed casino. The loss allowed Petersburg to venture into casino sweepstakes.
Is Petersburg Ready for Another Casino?
Petersburg chose the Cordish Companies in 2022 to be a casino development partner after it proposed a mixed-use development project on 80 acres in southeastern Petersburg at Wagner Road along Interstate 95. Cordish stated that it had allocated $1.4 billion for the property that would comprise a 600,000-square-foot hotel and casino.
Even so, it threatened to back down if the Assembly allowed other casinos in Petersburg and Richmond. Delegate Kim Taylor and Senator Morrisey have a similar bill that will give Petersburg residents an opportunity to vote on a casino ballot in November. It will prevent Richmond from holding a similar referendum until its casino operates for over a year.
Richmond Seeks a Second Referendum
Richmond petitioned to have another casino referendum in November 2022. But its request got withdrawn after Morrisey influenced the General Assembly to prevent another vote awaiting a Petersburg casino's viability study's result.
The study revealed that allowing Richmond and Petersburg to have casinos will earn Virginia more revenue although Petersburg is a suitable casino destination. Both gaming properties would generate 29 percent of net gambling revenue while a Petersburg casino would have 18 percent of revenue. Stoney is banking on the study's result to advocate for a second casino referendum in Richmond.