Gambling Legislation

Virginia residents try to block casino legislation

Some residents don’t believe lawmakers should have the final word on casino expansion

This week, Virginia’s Nash County Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 in favor of an ordinance that would solicit the state to approve conducting a local referendum on a proposed casino if lawmakers legalize commercial gambling. The general consensus is that the local community doesn’t want state legislators deciding their fate.

State lawmakers are mulling legislation that would permit one commercial casino in Nash, Anson, and Rockingham counties. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger is leading the gaming effort, saying that money from the state is making its way to neighboring Virginia casinos.

The Nash County Commissioners who voted in favor of a local referendum should have their voice heard, according to constituents, and only they should have the final say on a casino. Commission chairman Robbie Davis says he’s unable to disclose which developer is behind the project and those who attended the meeting due to a nondisclosure agreement. He says he believes Nash residents should vote on the final decision.

“It will be a controversial decision. I have found in my 21 years of being a commissioner that the fairest way of dealing with controversial items to your voters is giving them a chance to be involved with it,” Davis said.

The commissioner opposes casinos in Nash County because it’s already one of the poorest in the state, and a casino may worsen the situation. He also thinks that the people “deserve to have a voice.”

Although Nash County Commissioners voted 6-1 for a referendum, Berger’s efforts have one elected official’s support. Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson stated last week that a casino resort might be exactly what the city needs.

The only vote against the casino referendum came from Nash County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, who believes only voters in the targeted host city should be allowed to decide.

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