- Richmond is now allowed to hold a second casino voter referendum.
- Licensing for the property will not be allowed until a Petersburg site legislative study is completed.
- If approved, the Richmond casino project would be slowed considerably due to the Petersburg plans.
Once five cities in Virginia were allowed to hold a voter referendum to approve casino gaming, four cities got straight to work. Richmond was part of the pack of five, but officials in the city decided to wait until a casino plan was in place before allowing residents to vote. This was not the best move apparently, because after Urban One was selected as the casino provider, residents decided to vote no for a casino.
After the no vote, officials got back to the drawing board and wanted to host a second voter referendum. Well, in the in-between time, a plan was in place to bring a casino to Petersburg, a nearby city of Richmond. Now it seems the city of Richmond are legally allowed to hold the second vote, but if approved, the plans will be slowed down due to the potential rival casino for Petersburg.
What’s the Hold Up?
Senate Finance and Appropriations and House Appropriations committees agreed to a budget deal that was revealed only partially to the public. The deal includes language that delays licensing for a Richmond casino even if voters approve it with a second referendum this November.
The senate added a prohibition against the casino referendum in its version, so the city would not be able to vote at all. Negotiations took place and after a ruling by a Richmond judge, the referendum was back on. However, legislators found a way to slow down the project by adding a stipulation.
The stipulation states that licensing will not be provided until a legislative study regarding a rival site is Petersburg is completed. Once Richmond voters thwarted the idea, lawmakers began considering other areas and Petersburg was a standout location.
Will Petersburg Obtain the License?
Senator Joe Morrissey is behind the intent to bring a casino to Petersburg instead of Richmond. The senator has promised to add legislation in the General Assembly that will allow Petersburg to apply for a casino license once a JLARC study is completed.
The delay in licensing to the Richmond plan, if approved, puts Petersburg on track to obtain the license. It would also be ready to take on the license if voters decide to check no again on the ballot this November.
The vote could go either way. It appears as though predominantly white neighborhoods voted no on the referendum last fall while minority neighborhoods approved the project. Some feel that racial motivations may be at play considering the Urban One project that Richmond wants to move forward would bring a majority black-owned casino to the city.
It will be interesting to see how the vote plays out and if Richmond will still have a shot at bringing a casino to the city or if Petersburg will end up the victor.