Richmond Voters at Crossroads Over Casino Proposal

Voters in Richmond, Virginia are about to make a significant choice about the planned Richmond Grand Resort & Casino. This vote, set for November 7, will decide if the planned casino and entertainment venue’s appeal of tax income and employment prospects outweighs worries about transparency and the dangers of more gambling. The outcome also carries the weight of a prior unsuccessful referendum in 2021, in which voters barely rejected a comparable proposition.

The Richmond Grand Resort & Casino

Construction on the Richmond Grand Resort & Casino, a joint venture between Urban One and Churchill Downs, is expected to start in May 2026 and will be located in the Southside industrial region. The ambitious proposal comprises a performance arena, a 55-acre public park, a diverse entertainment complex with eateries, and a media production facility. The projected completion date is May 2029. The project’s developers have pledged to hire at least 1,300 people, boosting local employment in the process.

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Richmond voters divided almost evenly on the crucial referendum in 2021, with 51% opposing the casino idea and 49% in favor. Supporters were disappointed by the decision since the margin was so slim (1,500 votes). However, the City Council started the legal process to put the issue back on the ballot barely three months later.

The bill’s presentation for a vote was postponed from 2022 to 2023 due to budgetary restrictions. The outcome of the impending vote will determine whether construction gets started within a year and is finished in 30 months, so it has a lot of significance. If approved, the city will get a $25.5 million down payment up front and another $1 million when the financing is finished.

While hopes are high among casino proponents, the possibility of a second rejection raises questions about whether the proposal will be brought forward for a third time. When asked about the mayor’s intentions in such a scenario, spokesperson Gianni Snidle provided the following statement: “Right now, Mayor Stoney is focused on informing Richmonders about how the Richmond Grand will fund the Child Care and Education Trust Fund, provide 1,300 good-paying union jobs, and create a new world-class entertainment venue with green space, new restaurants, and bars—a game-changer for Southside and Richmond as a whole.” The city awaits the outcome of this decisive vote, with eyes on the potential economic and cultural implications of the Richmond Grand Resort & Casino.

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