Gambling Legislation

Virginia casino measure for Richmond faces legal challenge

Casino opponents hope a vote planned for November never takes place

A Richmond, VA, bingo hall that operates nonprofit charitable gaming is attempting to block the city’s latest action to build a Southside casino resort. A planned vote for the casino measure this November may never happen.

In July, a Richmond Circuit Court judge signed an order allowing the city’s top election administrator to put a citywide referendum on the ballot for the November 7 election, inviting voters to decide on a casino. Voters narrowly rejected the city’s first casino proposal in 2021.

Richmond Lodge No. 1 of the Good Lions, Inc. holds charitable bingo twice a week at Pop’s Bingo World and filed motions to intervene on August 11, requesting the judge reverse the decision for a referendum.

The motion reads, “Presently, the only casino gaming permitted in Richmond is charitable gaming, and this sole right has helped Good Lions and similar nonprofit organizations use the proceeds from gaming to improve the community. This charitable income will either disappear entirely or be seriously undermined should the referendum move forward and be successful.”

The July 25 court order came after The Virginia Lottery endorsed a preliminary application from the City and RVA Entertainment Holdings, a partnership between Urban One Inc. and Churchill Downs, for a proposed casino at the $562 million South Richmond development.

If voters approve the project, developers say it would create 1,300 new jobs at a luxury hotel, a casino, entertainment venues, restaurants, a sportsbook, and a 55-acre park. According to the proposal, the city of Richmond would receive a $26.5 million one-time upfront payment, and the facility would be constructed at 2001 Walmsley Boulevard and 4700 Trenton Avenue.

Voters will have the final word on the project in November as long as the city’s endeavor can survive legal challenges and a possible budget provision. Early voting will begin on September 22 for the November 7 state elections and run through November 5.

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