Danville Rents Explode But Is Caesars Virginia Casino Really To Blame?

Written By Andrew Bain on July 20, 2023 - Last Updated on July 26, 2023
Is the new casino in Danville the reason why rents have risen in the city?

The cost to rent a home has gone up recently in Danville. Some local residents are concerned the new Caesars Danville Casino is to blame.

But according to experts, the casino is not the main cause of rising rent in the area. In fact, the casino actually appears to play a fairly insignificant role in the trend.

Rents rising as much as 80% in Danville, Virginia

Caesars Danville Casino, also known as Caesars Virginia, opened its doors on May 15. It’s now one of three Virginia casinos, joining establishments in Bristol and Portsmouth. Virginia online casinos are still prohibited.

The opening of the temporary facility has brought an influx of visitors and residents to the town. This has coincided with a rise in rents.

Naturally, the casino is the assumed reason for this price hike.

Debra Fugato of the Dan River Region Association of Realtors told WFXR Fox on July 11 that the casino is part of the cause. New attractions like a casino do cause more people to move to town, she said, and this leads to higher rents.

“Someone that was paying $500 for a month for rent, now easily, for that same house, could be put at $1,000 to $1,300 just for rent.”

The numbers are indeed stark.

According to apartment hunting site RentHop, the median price for a one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom rental in Danville has gone up by 80.54%, 21.98% and 65.66%, respectively. Compare that to the trends in median price for one-, two-, and three-bedroom rentals across Virginia as a whole, which have increased by 14.85%, decreased by 3.96% and increased by 11.94%.

Other factors much more impactful than Caesars Danville Casino

But these numbers don’t paint a complete picture.

While Caesars Virginia may be a contributing factor to rising median rent, it’s only one of several.

Kenneth Danter, president of The Danter Group, a national real estate market research firm, presented a report on Danville’s housing environment in August 2022. He told PlayVirginia that there has been high demand in Danville for more modern housing for years. That demand, he adds, pre-dated Caesars moving into town.

“The overriding factor in Danville is that in the last five or six years … (Danville) has really been on the upswing. Prior to that, for the 30 to 40 years before that, there was little in the way of new housing added to the marketplace. … What we have is this huge, latent, pent-up support for housing that has not been provided by the market.”

Danville City Manager Ken Larking told PlayVirginia that this lack of new housing was also a result of past population decline.

“Danville was once a city of 54,000 people. It’s now a city of 43,000. Because of the decline of tobacco and textile industries in our community, demand for housing plummeted at about the same time the country experienced a housing crisis in around 2009.”

Now, the city of Danville is working to meet that demand for new housing. Modern housing is simply more expensive.

Will Danville’s rent spike even out?

Danville’s local government is working to address the city’s real estate growing pains. According to a report in the Danville Register & Bee, proposals for a housing development in a mostly vacant 17 acres of the Monument-Berryman area were due in February.

Susan McCulloch, division director for housing and development in the city’s Community Development Department, told the Bee that development of the Monument-Berryman area would help lower rents.

“The Monument-Berryman area has a lot of potential to create an anchor community within the city.”

The project area consists of 110 controlled large and small parcels.

McCulloch told PlayVirginia via email that the city is also in the process of implementing numerous programs to incentivize more development, and to help families afford this new housing.

These programs include:

  • Real estate tax grants
  • Reimbursement grants
  • Down payment and rental deposit assistance programs
  • First-time homebuyers “Fix-Up” funds
  • Mixed use adaptive reuse of historic structures

How Caesars Danville Casino can boost the local economy

Many residents and local business owners remain excited about the people flowing into the city to visit Caesars Virginia. And that flow of visitors will likely continue.

According to a report produced by the Joint Legislative Audit Commission, about one-third of the casino’s total revenue is projected to come from out-of-state visitors. That would “contribute especially to the viability of the Danville and Bristol casinos because of their small local markets.”

Those visitors will need places to stay, places to eat and places to gas up their cars, which has already proven to be a boon to local businesses.

City Council Member Lee Vogler told PlayVirginia that the increase in traffic to Danville is exciting for local business.

“The gas station that’s closest to (the casino) spent the last few days remodeling the exterior of (the building) and putting a new roof on it. I can’t imagine that would have happened otherwise. They’re seeing more business there, and more customers coming in.”

Vogler also said that businesses are looking to relocate to Danville. One example is Texas Roadhouse, which is building a location in the city. Officials cited the incoming casino as one of the reasons to come to Danville.

The permanent Caesars Virginia Casino is scheduled to open in 2024.

Photo by Shutterstock
Andrew Bain Avatar
Written by
Andrew Bain

Andrew lives in Los Angeles with his wife, where they spend much of their time with their rescue dog, Rory, and their horse, Lancelot. When he’s not working, Andrew’s usually listening to an audiobook or finding a new recipe to cook. He’s loved baseball for his entire life, and his two favorite teams are the Seattle Mariners and the Pittsburgh Pirates (he knows that's an odd pair of teams, thank you very much).

View all posts by Andrew Bain