Gambling Legislation

Casino referendum in Richmond, VA, back on the table

An effort to block a public vote on the casino measure fails to impress a judge

Richmond, Virginia, Circuit Court Judge W. Reilly Marchant issued a ruling against the nonprofit Richmond Lodge No. 1 of the Good Lions Inc. on Wednesday after it filed a motion to block a vote on the November casino referendum.

The Good Lions’ Richmond lodge raises funds through its twice-weekly charitable bingo games. It claimed that the Richmond City Council didn’t conduct a competitive bidding process before selecting RVA Entertainment Holdings LLC as the proposed casino operator after voting in June. If voters approve the referendum, the new $562.5 million ONE Casino + Resort in South Richmond will become a reality.

The Good Lions says it would lose charitable earnings if the casino is built. At the same time, the Richmond City Council proclaims that the Good Lions “lacks standing because it does not, and cannot, assert any claim or defense that is germane to this proceeding.”

Marchant’s order states that the Good Lions don’t have grounds to intervene, concluding that “Good Lions’ challenge to the City Council’s no bid/no notice process for selecting an operator of the casino, where Good Lions does not seek to be the operator, is not a challenge of government action fairly traceable to its expected loss of revenue.”

Chap Petersen, attorney for the Good Lions, said that he was disappointed in the ruling and that the judge “took a very narrow view” by establishing that Good Lions isn’t a “frustrated bidder” for the proposed casino, which failed by 1,200 votes in 2021.

Richmond will be the last Virginia city to vote on a casino referendum since the Virginia General Assembly allowed four others to open commercial casinos if approved by voters in November.

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