New Virginia Bill Pinpoints Location of Proposed Fairfax Casino

Written By Phil West on January 22, 2024 - Last Updated on January 24, 2024
Photo of a downtown view of Tysons Corner on a story about the city being the location of a proposed casino.

Talk of a possible casino in Fairfax County is growing more concrete, with the state senator who introduced the bill in Virginia’s current legislative session saying he’d like to see it go up in Tysons Corner near the Metro Silver Line.

Senate Bill 675, authored by state Sen. David Marsden, would allow Fairfax County voters to decide if they want to add a casino via voter referendum, adding to the trio of casinos currently open to customers and one that’s currently going through the city’s review process preceding construction.

Currently, there are three Virginia casinos with one more slated to open in 2025. The city of Richmond has had two referendums to approve one and both were voted down. There would surely be a competitive bidding process for gaming brands to operate any future casinos, as a retail license would give them the inside track to access the Virginia online casinos market, whenever it’s inevitably legalized.

How the bill pinpoints the proposed location of a Fairfax casino

A section of Marsden’s bill reads:

The eligible host locality described in subdivision A 6 shall be limited to a proposed site for a casino gaming establishment that is (i) located within one-quarter of a mile of an existing station on the Metro Silver Line, (ii) part of a coordinated mixed-use project development, (iii) outside of the Dulles airport flight path, (iv) within two miles of a major shopping destination containing not less than 1.5 million square feet of gross building area, and (v) outside of the Interstate 495 Beltway.

Based on those clues, the proposed casino would be in Tysons Corner and not Reston. That could work out in favor of the casino, as a trio of Reston area officials came forward following the most recent election to voice their concerns. They’re primarily concerned a casino along their portion of Dulles corridor would stymie growth.

But Marsden has already gone on record saying that Tysons would be a better fit, noting,

“Our commercial real estate market here locally is deteriorating rapidly. These are all 10-year leases on these buildings that people who rent space that they have and people who had 50,000 square feet now want 10,000. People who had 10,000 now don’t want any. Revenue in the county is deteriorating, and I’m worried that Tysons Corner will become a ghost town because people are working from home.”

He also notes that the Silver Line was designed for high density development, and a casino would bring jobs during both the construction phase and once the casino is open.

A Tysons Reporter article has pinpointed the potential casino location, reporting that Marsden plans the existing legislation to specify the abandoned Exclusive Automotive Group lot at 8546 Leesburg Pike near the Spring Hill Metro station.

New VA casino would add to commercial tax base

Marsden believes that building a casino there would “take pressure off” of residential real estate and car taxes by broadening the commercial tax base.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell said, “It’s frustrating that Maryland generates tax revenue to pay for its schools with casinos that draw heavily on Virginia for their customer base.”

Virginia’s existing casinos – Rivers Casino Portsmouth, a temporary Bristol Hard Rock Casino (operating while the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is built) and another temporary one in Danville, Caesars Virginia, (operating while the permanent facility is being built) — are outside of the Washington, D.C. metro area. A number of lawmakers think that a Virginia casino would attract people from throughout the “DMV” — and would entice Virginians to stay home and play locally versus taking their money across the border to Maryland casinos.

But it would have to go to Fairfax County voters first, and some polls put them in the same boat with people from Richmond, who already voted against opening a casino in the state capital on two separate occasions.

Mayor of neighboring town opposes plan

Though Vienna is only next door to Tysons, the Washington Post reported that city’s mayor, Linda Colbert, is signaling opposition to a Tysons casino. “A casino in Tysons would not align with the community values in Vienna,” Colbert told the paper via statement. “With the location in such proximity to the Town of Vienna, we are very concerned with the harmful economic and wellness impacts to our residents.”

But Marsden told the Post, “My goal is to provide my county with options as to how to look at its future and its future economic growth.”

Photo by Shutterstock
Phil West Avatar
Written by
Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

View all posts by Phil West