Richmond Casino Vote Will Happen on Nov. 7, Judge Rules

A Richmond casino will be on the Nov. 7 ballot. On Aug. 23, a judge decided a legal challenge had no standing in the referendum filing. That means voters will decide whether One Casino and Resort becomes the state’s fifth retail casino, located on the city’s south side.

William R. Marchant, chief judge of the Richmond City Circuit Court, gave the Richmond Lodge No. 1 of the Good Lions, Inc. until Friday to prove it had standing in the case.

Then he ruled against the Good Lions yesterday and reinstated his order to place the casino on the Richmond ballot.

Considering early voting begins on Sept. 22, that doesn’t leave much time for campaigning.

However, this is an issue Richmond residents have been hearing about since 2021.

In 2021, the One Casino and Resort proposal was marketed as “the nation’s only Black-owned casino.” That’s when about 2,000 Richmond voters decided the city wouldn’t allow developers to build the $562 million retail casino.

That’s also the year legal online sportsbooks launched in Virginia.

So 2023 is One Casino and Resort’s second chance with voters.

What the Richmond Casino Vote Intervention Included

In the charity gambling organization’s Aug. 11 motion to intervene before the casino went on the ballot, Good Lions claimed the following:

  • Allowing One Casino and Resort to be built, if voters approved it, would cannibalize Good Lions’ gambling revenue
  • Richmond City Council, which petitioned the court to put the casino on the ballot, allegedly violated the state constitution because there was no 2023 bidding process
  • Because the One Casino and Resort developers are working with Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) now, the bidding process should have resumed and included consideration of Virginia’s Pamunkey Indian Tribe

However, Marchant decided those questions had no standing in a referendum request.

Marchant had been scheduled to finalize his July 25 order to place the One Casino and Resort measure on the Nov. 7 ballot on Aug. 15. However, he allowed the Good Lions until Friday to justify intervention. That meant Marchant suspended that ballot ruling until yesterday, when he reinstated his July 25 order.

Good Lions Protestors Advocate Richmond Casino

Yesterday, hospitality worker union spokesman Benjy Cannon responded to a Bonus request for comment about Marchant’s ruling.

Last week, some members of the 7,500-member Unite Here Local 25 union were among about 20 protestors outside of Pop’s Bingo World. The protestors stood outside the business where the Good Lions held its charitable gambling events with signs that read “Good jobs for Richmond Workers” and “Let us Vote,” reported Michael Martz of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The statement Cannon sent Bonus yesterday echoes those sentiments from the union representing hospitality workers in the District of Columbia metropolitan area.

What Cannon sent Bonus quoted Local 23 President Marlene Patrick-Cooper:

This is a win for Richmond workers and for Southside residents. Richmond deserves this important development and the good jobs it will bring, and Richmond residents deserve to make their choice.

Regarding the “good jobs” claim, the statement mentions the union represents casino workers at MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino in Maryland, “where room attendants make $24 an hour.”

The statement emailed to Bonus also quotes Paul Schwalb, Local 25’s executive secretary-treasurer:

This was yet another failed effort to suppress the rights of Richmond residents to vote. Now we can get back to the real issue at the heart of this campaign – that Richmond residents will get to vote on whether to create 1,300 careers with a pathway to unionizing,

While Schwalb is correct that Richmond voters didn’t see the casino on the 2022 ballot, it was before them in 2021.

Possible Problems for the 2023 Richmond Casino Vote

Martz writes that language the Virginia General Assembly inserted in the budget that blocked a 2022 vote on One Casino and Resort remains there.

Martz reports for the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

The General Assembly last year used the state budget to block Richmond from holding a second vote until it could study the feasibility of a rival casino proposed in Petersburg by The Cordish Group, which the Petersburg City Council selected last fall as a casino operator after a private search and closed-door meeting.

The study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission concluded that both Petersburg and Richmond could support casinos, but Cordish says it will not move forward if Richmond is allowed to develop a rival gaming operation less than 25 miles away.

Various reports from local media say the language blocking the Richmond vote will be removed from the budget. Plus, the overall budget revision impasse will likely come to a close “by the end of the week.”

So far, revisions to the $165 billion two-year budget adopted in June 2022 are running six months late.

Meanwhile, if all goes well with the budget revisions, One Casino and Resort developers may still have to worry about Paul Goodman. The political strategist may sue to stop the development, reports The Richmond Free Press.

Like Good Lions, Goldman objects to the 2023 ballot item, primarily because One Casino and Resort didn’t go through a 2023 bidding process. (The proposed casino did win such a process before the 2021 vote.)

No Campaigning by One Casino Developers

One Casino and Resort developers don’t appear to be as enthusiastic about the proposed casino in 2023 as they were in 2021.

Richmond City Council supplied the details about the project before submitting it to Marchant.

The proposed casino will have two addresses:

  • 2001 Walmsley Boulevard
  • 4700 Trenton Avenue

The project will be significant:

  • 12-story luxury hotel
  • live entertainment venue and conference center
  • audio and visual production studio
  • food and beverage amenities featuring local Richmond restaurants,
  • a 55-acre green space and park

However, the @OneCasinoResort X account is private.

Plus, the project site that used to house renderings, press releases, testimonials, and more now says little.

Today, reads:

Coming soon …

Urban One, representing Black culture

Churchill Downs

Partnering to Bring Great Things to Richmond

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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