Richmond residents can weigh in on a possible resort casino within city limits by taking an online survey now through Dec. 14.
The survey will shape and guide the competitive process to select a resort casino operator and site, and outline the expectations for the city and its residents during the process.
Earlier this year, Gov. Ralph Northam signed a law that allowed for sports betting operations and the construction of five casinos in five Virginia cities, including Richmond and subject to city residents’ approval by referendum. The referendum is likely to be on the ballot in Richmond in November 2021. On Election Day 2020, voters in the four other cities — Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth — overwhelmingly supported plans to build casinos there.
Richmond’s survey results will inform the city’s request for qualifications/proposals.
“This survey is your opportunity to make sure the development proposals reflect your priorities, such as living-wage jobs, sustainable building practices and investment in the community,” Mayor Levar Stoney said in a written statement. The survey is the first opportunity for community engagement, though the selection process will consider community feedback, and the citywide voter referendum will determine if Richmond moves forward with the project.
The law requires that Richmond select a preferred casino operator and location before requesting courts to order a casino referendum. Rather than preselect an operator, Stoney’s administration will engage in a competitive process.
At least three organizations have thus far expressed interest in constructing a Richmond casino: the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Colonial Downs Group and Urban One Inc.
A study released by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission estimated that the five venues could generate $262 million annually in tax revenue and that gambling on sports could rake in an additional $55 million. Supporters say the casinos will bring jobs, tourists and tax revenue. Opponents counter that with casinos come crime and exploitation.
The survey can be found online at rva.gov/economic-development/resort-casino.