A Richmond casino vote will happen, shows a sample ballot released on Sept. 14 by the Richmond Office of Elections. While the ballot question doesn’t say the proposed $562 million gambling establishment’s name, it’s being called the Richmond Grand Resort and Casino.
The project is a collaboration between media company Urban One and Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI). If voters approve the measure, this will be Virginia’s fifth and final casino.
Today, the board released pictures of the “sample ballots for Early Voting.”
Early voting begins on Sept. 22 and lasts through Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 7.
In English, then Spanish, the ballot question reads:
Shall casino gaming be permitted at a casino gaming establishment in the City of Richmond, Virginia, at 2001 Walmsley Boulevard and 4700 Trenton Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23234 as may be approved by the Virginia Lottery Board?
Richmond Casino Vote Now Written in Black and White
The casino project formerly called One Casino and Resort reaching the ballot was no small hurdle. On Aug. 23, William R. Marchant, chief judge of the Richmond City Circuit Court, allowed the casino question to go on the ballot and rejected a claim by an opponent to block the vote. Plus, Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed Virginia’s budget today that legislators passed without language that would’ve blocked the vote.
However, this isn’t the proposed casino’s first time before voters. In 2021, about 2% of Richmond voters defeated the One Casino and Resort project that was then fully organized by Urban One.
On Aug. 31, 2023, Urban One Founder Cathy Hughes told members of Richmond’s media that 2021 was a learning experience. As she kicked off the project’s unveiling, she said Urban One understood the media and spoke to residents that way in 2021. In 2023, Hughes said they understood politics better and they instead asked residents what they wanted.
Richmond Grand Resort and Casino is a result of those discussions, she said.
So, what was marketed in 2021 as “the nation’s only Black-owned casino,” is now being called “a high-end resort to serve as a great place for a vacation, staycation, or a special night or weekend away.”
Hughes is quoted in a Sept. 11 Black Enterprise article, only talking about how the casino will benefit Richmonders.
The campaign commercial played during the Aug. 31 press conference was also Richmonder-centric:
Richmond, you told us what you wanted in a new resort casino and we listened.
For instance, one resident mentioned he wanted to play pickleball on the grounds, so there’ll be pickleball.
One More Opponent Wants to Be Heard
Political strategist Paul Goodman seems to be the primary remaining opponent of the proposed Richmond Grand Resort and Casino.
Goodman filed a lawsuit in Richmond City Circuit Court against Virginia Elections Commissioner Susan Beals and the chairman and vice-chairwoman of the state elections board. The case filed on Aug. 30 seeks an injunction, attempting to stop the Richmond casino vote.
Also, his “No Means No Casino” effort has collected $190,000 so far.
Most of the contributions come from one family:
- Robert S. Ukrop, chairman and CEO of Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods, provided $25,000
- Barbara B. Ukrop added $100,000
- Paul Goldman Consulting accounted for $20,000
- Richmond Action LLC, for which Goldman is the “registered agent,” contributed $45,000