Petersburg Casino Bill Clears Senate Hurdle To Get On November Ballot

Written By Phil West on March 12, 2024 - Last Updated on March 15, 2024
Petersburg Casino bill clears major legislative hurdle for November vote

Petersburg got one step closer to being the fifth city with rights to host a casino in Virginia, thanks to the General Assembly’s passage of a bill last week.

The bill, which passed by a 78-18 margin in the House, was approved back in February by the Senate. However, because it included an amendment that could allow Petersburg voters to approve it as soon as November, it required additional Senate sign-off. That came in the form of a 24-16 vote.

Now, assuming that Gov. Glenn Youngkin signs the bill, Petersburg residents will get to vote on a referendum to join three other cities already with casinos in operation — Portsmouth, Bristol, and Danville — and Norfolk, which has approved a casino that is currently stalled as developers and city officials are at a stalemate over casino plans.

Third time’s a charm for Petersburg casino potential?

This is the third attempt to get such a bill passed in the General Assembly. In the 2022 and 2023 sessions, similar bills failed at the Senate committee level. However, in part because voters in Richmond — 24 miles to the north — voted down a pair of referendums, Sen. Lashrecse Aird saw opportunity to renew efforts for a Petersburg bill in the current session, the Progress-Index reported.

Barb Rudolph, the founder of Clean Sweep Petersburg, described on its Facebook page as “a forum for Petersburg citizens, and friends of the city, who seek to shed sunshine on the conduct of Petersburg city government,” shared thoughts with the Progress-Index about the potential benefits of a casino for the city. A major focus was about building up the area around Exit 52 off Interstate 95 at Washington and Wythe streets. Rudolph shared that the area, given its confluence with Interstate 85, draws more than 108,000 vehicles a day.

According to Rudolph:

“One of them is even building out from that development. Think of what it would do for those blighted parts of Blandford, all those crummy motels people are always talking about wanting to get rid of. It would enhance what is in the downtown master plan.”

Petersburg, VA casino development bids now open

Petersburg has begun soliciting bids for a mixed-use development anchored by a casino. The deadline to bid is March 18.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported the following development requirements:

“Bids for the project ‘must include’ a casino, destination resort, retail shopping, dinner and drink options, an event center and a hotel with a minimum of 500 rooms, with a preference for two 4-star hotels.”

Virginia currently has one permanent casino location, Rivers Casino Portsmouth, with two more – Caesars Virginia in Danville and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol — being built while the companies are operating temporary casinos in those cities along the Tennessee border.

There’s also a plan to bring a casino to Tysons Corner along the Silver Line connecting Washington, D.C. to Dulles International Airport and Pointes West, but State Sen. David Marsden‘s initial efforts were parked until 2025 by a Senate committee considering the bill.

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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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