Richmond votes ‘no’ on second casino referendum

November 8, 2023
By

After the original vote by Richmond residents in 2021, a second referendum vote revealed an even larger divide where 58% voted against the proposed Richmond Grand.

Yesterday the voters of Richmond, Virginia voted 58% against a referendum proposing the Richmond Grand Resort & Casino. The first vote on the casino took place in 2021, when it was approved by the city council, but also rejected by Richmond’s voters.

The first referendum was set for the November 2021 ballot, when the project was still titled One Casino + Resort by its developers, Urban One and Churchill Downs. A Richmond circuit court judge granted permission for a second referendum in March 2022, but it did not occur until this week, after the suspension of the vote, a lawsuit from the opposition and an over $8m campaign from the potential casino developers.

Residents in Virginia also voted against a second proposed Churchill Downs property, which would have been a Rosie’s Gaming Emporium in the Manassas Park area. A Rosie’s location was, however, opened in the city of Emporia, Virginia in September.

Richmond Wins, the pro-casino political action committee issued a statement after losing the vote saying, “We are proud to have run a community-centered campaign to create more opportunities for residents of this great city to rise into the middle class. We are grateful to the thousands of Richmonders who voted for good jobs and a stronger city, especially those in South Side who poured their hearts into this project.”

According to local reports, when the original vote took place in 2021, the city’s North Side and West End voters (which make up a wealthier demographic consisting of more white voters) voted against the casino referendum while South Side and East End residents (a majority Black demographic) had voted yes, in majority.

The margin was larger in this week’s referendum vote, but the local demographics reportedly were similar. The Mayor of Richmond, Levar Stoney, said he will continue to “be a voice for communities that have been historically overlooked and underserved.”

Paul Goldman, campaign manager of the No Means No Casino action committee also released a statement, saying, “For too long, the politics of Richmond has been controlled by politicians and their allies who put their own self-interest before the public interest.

“Richmond can afford right now to fix our schools, provide affordable daycare, achieve equality for all and reduce the tax burden on the citizenry. The losing side tonight said the only way to do that is to fleece the poor.”

The Richmond Grand Resort & Casino would have included a 250-room hotel, a 3,000-seat concert venue and a soundstage for future audio and television productions as well as casino gaming.

Casino locations in both Norfolk and Reston, Virginia are still currently in consideration. The state law permits only five cities to open gambling establishments, and already has casinos in Bristol, Portsmouth and Danville.

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