Virginia Senator Files Fairfax Casino Bill, Will Rival the MGM on the Potomac


  • A similar bill was filed and withdrawn during the previous legislative session
  • The planned location for the casino is in Tysons
  • Developers want to build an entire entertainment district alongside the casino

The first step in a multi-year plan to build a casino in one of the country’s most affluent areas was just completed.

Virginia Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax) introduced a bill to build a casino in his native Fairfax County. The current plan calls for the creation of a property with enough size and amenities to challenge the popularity of the MGM National Harbor on the Potomac River. 

Marsden filed a Fairfax casino bill during the last legislative session but eventually had it withdrawn. His new plan contains amendments to the previous one that would hopefully make it more agreeable to fellow legislators.

Finding the perfect spot 

Marsden’s bill allows for the casino to be built only at one precise location.

“The eligible host locality … shall be limited to a proposed site for a casino gaming establishment that is located within one-quarter of a mile of an existing station on the Metro Silver Line, part of a coordinated mixed-use project development, outside of the Dulles airport flight path, within two miles of a major shopping destination containing not less than 1.5 million square feet of gross building area, and outside of the Interstate 495 Beltway,” said Marsden.

The only possible location that meets that criteria is an old auto dealership lot in Tysons off Route 7.

Previous discussions involving lawmakers and casino interest-holders revolved around building a casino in Reston, roughly 10 minutes from Dulles International Airport. 

The hub of Reston, known as the Reston Town Center, recently added and is still in the process of erecting new office buildings, housing complexes, shops, and more. However, locals pushed back on the idea of adding a casino to the growing list of attractions. 

Marsden was asked in December about the potential of building a casino in Reston. He responded by stating that Tysons was the “right” location for a casino since it was more fit for an entertainment district.

Similar to the Reston situation, however, many residents and members of the Tysons government have already cast dissenting views to the new proposal.

Luckily for those holding negative views, Marsden plans to give Fairfax voters the opportunity to vote on the bill.

Reasons behind the proposal 

One of the key motivators behind Marsden’s bill is the changing economic picture in Fairfax County.

Many areas of Fairfax are covered in office buildings that were vacated during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since many companies and businesses have adjusted and now allow their employees to work from home, lots of those office buildings remain empty.

The result is far fewer property tax dollars for the local economy, leaving a chasm between the pre and post-pandemic spending power of local cities and towns.

“There’s a real need to try to figure out a way to help plug the property tax hole that’s going to happen,” said state Senator and Democratic Majority Leader Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax). “If we want good schools, the burden of offsetting lost tax revenue is going to fall on homeowners, so the county needs more revenue sources.”

One interested developer said that they're hoping for not just a casino, but an entire entertainment district, complete with a convention center, restaurants, hotels, and permanent residences. 

A 2019 study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission estimated that a casino in Northern Virginia would create $155 million in annual revenue and create roughly 4,400 job openings. It also found that Virginia loses roughly $100 million in annual revenue to Maryland casinos, particularly the MGM. 

If the bill makes it past the VA General Assembly it will still need to be signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has not declared an official stance on the matter.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.