Fairfax County Casino Bill Could Get Second Chance

Written By Phil West on July 1, 2024
Second Chance on wood blocks signifies that a Fairfax County casino bill could reemerge in 2025.

The bill allowing Fairfax County residents to vote on a casino to be built in Tysons could be back up for consideration in the next legislative session.

According to WJLA-TV, a group of Virginia lawmakers “are laying the groundwork to re-introduce a bill to allow Fairfax County residents to vote on a referendum” that would bring a casino to a designated spot in Tysons.

The original bill, filed by state Sen. David Marsden, stalled in the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. The bill proposed placing a casino on a former auto dealership site near the Spring Hill Metro stop on the DC Metro’s Silver Line.

Lawmaker thinks casino referendum could pass

There are currently three commercial casinos operating in the commonwealth. Lawmakers have not legalized Virginia online casinos, but sweepstakes and social casinos are legal. While they use virtual dollars, some prizes can be redeemed for real cash.

The closest retail casino to Fairfax County is three hours south in Portsmouth. Gamblers in Northern Virginia are more likely to cross state lines to visit casinos in West Virginia and Maryland.

Marsden told WJLA that Fairfax County residents could now be more open to a casino. “We’re in a situation where people are starting to really pay attention to how much they’re paying in taxes on their homes and on their cars and what have you,” he explained. “We’re already seeing this year $450 on the average home going up on real estate taxes.”

That was perhaps aimed at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. According to WJLA, it “raised taxes again on homeowners this year despite hearing from homeowners that they can’t afford it.”

While the board has not officially voted on adding a casino in Tysons, several members voiced concerns about the plan as it was progressing through the Senate.

Local chamber backs casino plan

The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce supported last session’s Fairfax casino bill. President and CEO Julie Koons said a casino complex would “contribute an estimated $2 billion to the region and would bring thousands of new jobs to the county.”

Local groups are again coalescing against it. Tracy McCarty of No Fairfax Casino told WUSA-TV that a casino would devastate the county.

“We know now that most people in Fairfax County do not want to see a casino in Fairfax County. It will lower property values. It will encourage risky behavior. It will cause public safety concerns. It will forever change the character of the community around us.”

Marsden told WUSA that support from county residents is crucial. “I’m not gonna waste my time down in Richmond unless I have support back here at home,” he said.

He said changes to the county’s economic stability, including “a dramatic decline in commercial real estate,” are making casino revenue a more appealing prospect.

Another civic group, the Virginia Players Alliance, supports a casino in Fairfax County. Founder Ben Tribbett told PlayVirginia it could be a huge success for the area and the state.

“We think it could be one of the biggest revenue-producing casinos in the United States and fund hundreds of millions of dollars annually to needs around the commonwealth.”

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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.

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