Plan B: If Casino Vote Falters, A Developer May Expand Gambling Options in Danville Anyway

Written By Derek Helling on July 7, 2020 - Last Updated on March 2, 2021

Danville voters might not be deciding on whether to expand gambling in their city this November. They could effectively be voting on whether they want a casino or an off-track betting (OTB) site.

One developer has expressed interest in opening such a business in Danville. That might happen even if a referendum to approve a casino within the city fails.

Declassifying the drama in Danville

There are two components of this situation that are certain.

The first is that Danville voters will decide at the ballot box this November whether to authorize a new casino within the city’s limits.

The second sure thing is that if the measure passes, Caesars Entertainment will develop the casino. The city selected Caesars’ bid from a field of seven.

If approved, the casino would occupy the Schoolfield neighborhood. Caesars would spend more than $400 million to erect the facility complete with a hotel, eateries, convention space, a live entertainment stage and a retail sportsbook.

The Caesars proposal also called for the creation of 1,300 permanent jobs. It’s uncertain yet whether the winning bid means that the Caesars online sportsbook would operate in Virginia.

One of the six failed proposals had an interesting twist to it. That element may come back into play if Danville voters decline.

A satellite wagering site at White Mill instead?

When VA enacted its last gambling expansion law, it authorized OTB sites to offer wagering on sporting events. Such an operation was part of one of the bids that Danville considered.

In its bid, Peninsula Pacific Entertainment stated that should the referendum fail in Danville, it would instead open a satellite wagering site in the city. Peninsula Pacific’s bid was the only one in the field to offer such “insurance.”

Despite losing the contract to Caesars, Peninsula Pacific hasn’t given up on Danville. As a matter of fact, it might be lying in wait for a potential opportunity.

Spokesman Mark Hubbard said in an email to the Danville Register & Bee:

“Peninsula Pacific Entertainment will be monitoring the upcoming referendum in Danville to see what residents really want for their community. We will determine next steps following the ballot on expanding the gaming opportunity that has already been approved by voters in Danville.”

Peninsula Pacific hasn’t gone as far as to commit to an OTB should the casino referendum fail. At the same time, it does have an agreement with the city in place to purchase White Mill. That agreement is valid until March 3, 2021.

Danville isn’t necessarily a bustling metropolis in VA, as it only ranks 29th among VA cities by population. Its proximity to the North Carolina border, however, makes it an attractive location.

Whether North Carolinians and Virginians may meet in Danville to bet on sporting events may not really be the question at this point. The real point of contention may be whether they will do so at a Caesars casino in Schoolfield or a Peninsula Pacific OTB at White Mill.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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