Richmond Casino Ballot Approved, Residents to Decide $600M Resort Fate

By | August 12, 2021

The Richmond casino ballot referendum will go before city voters during the November 2 election.

Richmond casino Virginia Philip Morris
The unmissable Philip Morris structure along I-95 in Richmond, Va. Adjacent to the tobacco plant could soon be a $600 million casino resort. (Image: Getty)

The Richmond Circuit Court made it official last week by signing off on a petition from the City Council seeking to authorize the election question. The court’s August 4 decision was made public this week.

The court ruled that the petition was filed properly pursuant to city code, and the referendum is officially ordered to occur during the November election. Voters will be presented the following question:

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?”

Voters can select “Yes” or “No.” If a simple majority say “yes,” ONE Casino + Resort will be authorized to construct its proposed $600 million integrated resort casino just south of the Philip Morris tobacco plant.

ONE Casino, Many Investors

Richmond’s casino developer has no previous experience developing a casino. Instead, Urban One is a publicly traded media conglomerate that caters to Black America.

Urban One’s development partner, however, is no newcomer to the gaming industry. The company has aligned with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) in designing and planning the Richmond property.

P2E, based in California, operates casinos in New York and Iowa, as well as five Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in Virginia that feature historical horse racing machines. P2E is also a minority investor in MGM National Harbor, located outside the nation’s capital in Oxon Hill, Md.

Urban One and P2E say they will invest $600 million to build a 100-acre leisure complex. It would be highlighted by a 250-room resort hotel and 100,000-square-foot casino floor equipped with 1,800 slot machines, 100 table games, and sportsbook.

Urban One and P2E are leading the ONE Casino development effort. But the project involves a large group of “diverse investors,” the casino website explains.

“ONE has a large group of diverse investors, providing opportunities for minority ownership and including representation across Richmond. ONE is about lifting people up and building wealth within the Richmond community,” the website states in its listing of 50 individuals invested in the endeavor.

Fifth Potential Casino

Virginia legalized commercial gambling last year, but only for economically troubled cities. Five such areas met a slew of criteria that afforded the cities the right to allow its people to decide whether to use a casino resort as an economic engine.

Norfolk, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Danville each held ballot referendums during the November 2020 election. And all four casino questions gained adequate support to move the resort proposals forward.

Officials in Richmond opted to wait a year, as the Virginia capital city received robust interest. The ONE Casino + Resort plans beat out several other pitches, including from Bally’s, The Cordish Companies, Golden Nugget, Wind Creek Hospitality, and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

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