Vote on new casino suspend by Circuit Court Judge in Richmond, Virginia

August 16, 2023
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Urban One Casino + Resort may still reach the November ballot, after years of referendums, but a local nonprofit organization seeks to block a vote on the proposal.

Richmond Circuit Court Judge William Reilly Marchant has suspended a vote on whether the city will allow a new casino, on the date originally set for its finalization. The city of Richmond originally approved the Urban One Casino + Resort project in 2021, but several referendums have taken place since.

The first referendum was set for the November 2021 ballot. By March 2022, a second referendum was granted by the Circuit Court. Richmond Mayor, Levar Stoney, supported the project this year by also requesting a second referendum.

In June 2023, the city approved the reconsideration of the reintroduced Urban One and Churchill Downs proposal, including not only a casino but also a luxury hotel, 55 acres of green space and an entertainment venue. Now, both the city attorney’s office and a nonprofit organization have been given extra time to file arguments against the proposed casino.

Richmond Lodge No. 1 of the Good Lions (the Good Lions) filed intervening motions to block a casino resort in Southside and currently holds charitable games at Midlothian gaming venue Pop’s Bingo World.

Though the order was meant to be finalized yesterday, the Good Lions have been granted an emergency motion to suspend the court until Friday this week.

Marchant told the Good Lions’ attorney, Christopher Robertson, to “provide some more law” during this extra time given, in order to further support the organization’s arguments. Marchant also claimed there would be time for the city to uphold Virginia law by giving adequate notice to voters in the newspaper.

The Good Lions’ have claimed that allowing the reconsideration of the proposed casino on the November ballot this year has violated the State Constitution by side-stepping a public bidding process. Richmond Senior Assistant City Attorney Wirt P. Marks alleges a public bidding process is unnecessary due to the development’s proposal to be built on private land.

Richmond City Attorney Laura K. Drewry wrote in an email, “The Court’s action today merely provides additional time for the parties to fully brief the Judge.”

Richmond citizens will still need to wait until November this year to vote, and the judge will rule by August 23 if the casino proposal can make it to the ballot.

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