$562 Million Richmond Casino Project Fails Final Hurdle at Election Ballot


  • The casino project was supported by the Richmond mayor
  • The casino was expected to add $30 million in local tax funding
  • One of the largest corporate supporters was dogged by controversy shortly before the election

A group of casino proponents and developers conceded defeat in a bid to create a $562 million facility in the capital city of Richmond, Virginia.

The Richmond Grand Resort and Casino, a planned 250-room, 55-acre facility, was expected to create 1,300 sustainable jobs and $30 million in local tax funding. This is the second time that plans for a casino in Richmond have failed to garner enough support from voters.

Only locals in the eighth and ninth districts, the areas closest to the targeted build site, gave majority support to the idea. The casino project fell roughly 13,000 votes short in totality.

A second failure

According to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections, 58% of voters selected “no” on their ballots for the casino, while 41% picked “yes.”

The topic of a casino only missed out on the necessary support by about 1,500 votes during the 2021 general election. About 78,000 people voted this week, compared to the 79,000 in 2021.

“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,” a statement from the Richmond Wins, Vote Yes, a pro-casino political action committee, said. “We are grateful to the thousands of Richmonders who voted for good jobs and a stronger city, especially those in Southside who poured their hearts into this project.”

More than $10 million was spent on advertising and casino campaign efforts during the build-up to the Nov. 7 election day. Pro-casino backers even put on a free Isley Brothers concert and set up food trucks next to an early voting facility in October and November.

However, the campaigns were also bogged in controversy. Urban One, one of the largest corporate supporters of the casino project, was mired by anti-Semetic speech from one of its radio show hosts.

“Paul Goldman (a critic of the casino project) is a Jew who got the same trait as Judas,” said Preston Brown on “The Box” on 99.5 FM, owned by Urban One. “He’s a white Jew with the background of Judas. I’m talking about one person, and his name is Paul Goldman, and he’s a Judas. And I think somebody might have heard me say ‘Jew.’ He’s a Judas, and Judas was with Jesus.”

Virginia’s gaming climate

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney supported the casino project and planned to use a portion of the tax revenue it raised to ensure child care was affordable and more available in the city.

“I will continue to be a voice for communities that have been historically overlooked and underserved,” said Stoney in a statement. “I will work for more accessible and affordable child care, for good-paying jobs, and for an abundance of opportunities for ALL Richmonders — no matter their zip code or socioeconomic status.”

On top of the spacious gaming facility, the casino project included plans for a 3,000-seat concert venue that included $50 million in investment over 10 years from Urban One.

Early results show that voters in the North and West of the city, who are predominantly white and wealthier, were against building a casino. Voters in the South and East in more heavily Black, lower-income areas showed more support for the idea.

There are three casinos in Virginia—Danville Caesars Casino in Danville, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol in Bristol, and Rivers Casino Portsmouth in Portsmouth. HeadWaters Resort and Casino is also in the works in conjunction with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, though there have been repeated delays.

Virginia has also been one of the largest legal sports betting markets ever since it launched online sports betting in January 2021.

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