Virginia’s One Casino + Resort to potentially score a second referendum

June 13, 2023
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Richmond ballots could include a further vote for a casino proposed in 2021, to be operated by Churchill Downs and Urban One.

Richmond City Council members voted on Monday to implement a host community agreement between the city and RVA Entertainment Holdings. Following the vote, the Council is petitioning Richmond City Court to put a casino referendum on November ballots.

RVA is a joint venture between Churchill Downs and Urban One, who have proposed a $562.5m casino property called One Casino + Resort. A second referendum will call for the casino to be reconsidered, after voters rejected the plans in 2021.

The city of Richmond re-introduced the proposal for One Casino + Resort earlier this year. A general assembly vote in 2019 permits five Virginia cities facing economic challenges to open casinos, and this has led to Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth properties, though some voters in Richmond still hope to win the fifth.

After the 2021 proposal was rejected in Richmond by a large margin of 1,200 votes, council members in Petersburg attempted to bring a casino to their city instead. Senator Joe Morrissey tried to pass legislation in Petersburg tied to a casino proposal by Cordish Companies, but he did not succeed.

After the death of said bill in the Senate, Petersburg was off the table and Richmond will now be able to take a mulligan on the first referendum. City Councilor Reva Trammell said, “It’s a referendum. We have the right to have another one.”

Much of the proposal for One Casino + Resort is similar to the plans from 2021, but the addition of Churchill Downs is due to the company's purchase of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment.

Part of the agreement voted on by the council is also a payout of $25.5m from the developer to the city of Richmond if the referendum passes.  

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