On this coming election day (Nov. 2, 2022) Richmond residents will have an extra choice to fill out on the back of their voting ballot.
Richmond voters will have to decide whether or not they want to allow the construction and operation of a resort casino in their city confines.
Richmond voters had the chance to make the resort casino a reality on last year’s ballot, only for it to be shot down by a narrow margin. The city’s mayor and council revived the idea, however, and it is back on the ballot this fall.
The resort casino would be named “ONE Casino,” and projects to attract over 3.7 million visitors annually. It’s estimated that ONE Casino and Resort would generate almost $30 million in tax revenue each year, which would go a long way for the city of Richmond.
The only problem with the $30 million, however, is that the city is unsure as to what it would do with it yet.
The city council was supposed to meet on the matter on Apr. 25, but have decided to punt the meeting to Jun. 13, for reasons unknown.
ONE Casino revenue proposed to aid taxes and education
While they don’t exactly know where the money will be going yet, there are at least two proposals that are under consideration — so at least we’re starting somewhere.
One proposal, backed by the mayor of Richmond, would put the money towards aiding the city’s real estate tax rate. Currently, at a rate of $1.20 per $100 of assessed value, the mayor would like to drop that down to $1.18 per $100 of assessed value.
Mayor Levar Stoney, city of Richmond said:
“We’ve seen everything is going up. The price of gas, the price of your Oreos, all are going up across the country, and so, we think right now, people are deserving of that two-cent tax cut on the real estate taxes.”
The other proposal is based more on the funding of the city’s education system, promising at least 1/3rd of all casino tax revenue to go towards the public schools.
The city’s public school division is set to lose almost $7 million in state funding next year due to a drop in student enrollment and a surge in property value.
The mayor noted his plan also accounts for public school funding, saying:
“When you talk about school funding, that’s obviously going to be there. That’s already in our plan. And so I don’t think both are necessary.”
Comparing casino tax plans to Virginia sports betting
Lucky for Virginia, they’re not going at this alone.
Since the launch of legal sports betting in VA, over $3.7 billion worth of bets have been placed, according to the Virginia Lottery.
While the sports betting market has surely grown in Virginia, it still is not as economically impactful, as say, a casino would be. Or even close to as economically impactful as Virginia online casinos.
To wit: In January alone, bettors gambled more than $485 million — which was a state record.
However, sportsbooks paid out $446 million in winnings, leaving a revenue of only $39 million. Considering some of that is through promotions and bonuses (which are tax-exempt) that leaves $18 million to be taxed. They pay 15% tax on that figure, leaving $3 million for the state in January.
Virginia approaches its sports betting tax revenue similarly to the second plan mentioned earlier.
First off, 2.5% is set off into a fund that provides problem gambling help. The rest goes into the state’s General Fund, which helps fund things like education, health services, and public safety.
The future of ONE Casino and Resort
The proposed plans for the ONE Resort Casino include 100,00 square feet of casino gaming space, including:
- 1,800+ slot machines
- 100+ table games
- Poker room
- And a sportsbook
The project site is located in South Richmond by Philip Morris at 2001 Walmsley Blvd East, in downtown Richmond.
While the prospect sounds great, it still is all up to the voters. ONE Casino and Resort has been lobbying vigorously over the past months, trying to sway people to vote yes–but the fact remains: If the voters spoil the party for the second year in a row, it won’t matter what the Richmond City Council decides on Jun. 13.