After facing some backlash, Bally’s Corporation hoped to pivot to a new Richmond casino location. The city, though, said it’s too late for that.
The past few weeks have included protests and increasingly organized opposition to the project. As a result, Bally’s executives have been trying to squelch the complaints.
Earlier this week, that included a “listening tour” to hear directly from Richmond residents. Those same residents will vote on a casino referendum in November to determine the fate of a casino in the Virginia capital.
Bally’s latest community outreach effort, though, was a bit bolder: completely relocating the proposed $650 million casino-resort.
Richmond casino location angers some Richmonders
Along with The Cordish Companies and Urban One/Colonial Downs, Bally’s is one of three finalists for the Richmond casino project. The price tag on Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort is the richest of the group at nearly two-thirds of a billion dollars.
However, Richmonders clearly aren’t looking solely at the financial particulars of each project. Instead, the Richmond casino location has been front and center during increasingly heated discussions.
Officials have proposed building Bally’s Richmond on a 61-acre plot that’s located at the intersection of Powhite Parkway (VA-76) and Chippenham Parkway (VA-150) near Forest Hill Avenue. However, some residents from the nearby Stratford Hills neighborhood have vehemently opposed the proposed site.
In response, Bally’s proposed moving the project. According to Richmond.com, the Rhode Island-based company recently asked City of Richmond officials if it would still consider its proposal if it moved to a new site. The new one would be located on a vacant lot behind Rosie’s Gaming Emporium on Midlothian Turnpike. (It’s one of five Rosie’s historical horse racing facilities located in Virginia.)
However, on Wednesday, the city issued a response. And for Bally’s, it’s a no-go.
City says no to Richmond casinos changes
According to Richmond.com, Bally’s Corporation also recently started “pushing to have the city select an operator and site independently of each other.” In other words, the city could still choose Bally’s but then tell the company where to build.
The city nixed that idea, too.
Leonard Sledge, Richmond’s director of economic development, said in a statement on Wednesday evening:
“The city has been consistent throughout the resort-casino (Request for Qualifications/Proposals) process in its evaluation of a single site submitted by each respondent to the RFQ/P. The operator and site go hand in hand.”
One councilperson told the newspaper it would “undermine the integrity of the evaluation process” if Bally’s abruptly changed its proposed location. That’s especially true considering the city already eliminated three proposals that were deemed inadequate.
Instead, the city will evaluate the initial proposals, which offer various visions for the proposed gambling venue.