A possible Danville casino took another step forward following an unanimous vote from the city council.
During Tuesday’s Danville City Council meeting, council members voted 6-0 to support a development agreement with Caesars Entertainment. The vote authorizes Danville City Manager Ken Larking to sign off on the plans.
Now, Danville residents will have the final say. They can formally approve the $400 million casino and resort project via a referendum as part of the general election on Nov. 3.
If voters approve the project, the Danville casino could break ground in late 2021 or early 2022. According to Danville and Caesars officials, the casino would likely open in 2023.
About the Danville casino development agreement
The development agreement is a legally binding document, and it outlines what Caesars promises to deliver to Danville.
In April, the Virginia General Assembly voted to legalize casino gambling and sports betting in the commonwealth. The following month, Danville officials chose Caesars as its preferred casino operator.
The Danville resort would feature 300 hotel rooms, a 35,000-square-foot conference center and a 2,500-seat arena. It would also feature a pool, spa, fitness center, restaurants and bars.
Virginians will find the casino-resort on the former Dan River Mills industrial complex in Schoolfield.
More importantly, the Danville casino could generate 1,300 full-time jobs and 900 temporary construction jobs.
Additionally, Caesars would pay $5 million upfront to purchase the Schoolfield site, and it’d pay another $30 million to Danville within 30 days of the referendum passing. The agreement includes other community initiatives, including new vehicles for the fire department and contributions to community groups.
In all, the casino could generate $20 million annually in tax revenue for Danville by its third year in operation.
Council member abstains but supports Danville casino
Tuesday’s city council vote was unanimous, but one council member abstained from voting.
J. Lee Vogler said a conflict of interest prohibited him from voting.
Vogler is the marketing director for Andrews Brooks Media Group, which has an advertising agreement with Caesars.
However, Vogler pledged his support for the Danville casino:
“I fully support the project, but my employer is currently doing some marketing work with the project. … But I 100% support the route the city is taking on this project and the deal that was set up. It’s fantastic.”
Danville mayor stumps for casino project
Tuesday’s vote on the Danville casino was a straightforward affair. However, before the meeting’s conclusion, Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones reiterated that the project is for the Danville community.
Danville was one of five cities approved to build casinos in Virginia, which is contingent on a voter referendum.
Jones and other council members have stressed that the decision is up to voters. However, throughout Tuesday’s meeting, they reference how Danville is becoming a true comeback story.
Vogler called it a “city of progress.” Others called it a true “All-American city.”
Now, with the potential casino approval just two months away, Jones wants to deliver for Danville residents:
“We’ve been working really hard to give this to the citizens. … I think sometimes people want it to be a council decision because … it’s easier for them to dig against (the) council. But this council has always been about the citizens, our city staff has been about the citizens, and we continue to be about the citizens.”