Petersburg City Council Reaches Deadline To Approve Cordish As Casino Developer

Written By Tyler Andrews on May 31, 2024
Sen. Lashrecese Aird, sponsor of Petersburg casino bill, which has a May 31 deadline for city council to endorse Cordish as developer.

The deadline for the Petersburg City Council to submit paperwork to the Virginia Lottery formally endorsing the Cordish Companies has arrived.

Cordish, along with Bruce Smith Enterprises, have a proposal to build Live! Casino & Hotel Virginia, a 92-acre casino community in Petersburg, one of five Virginia casinos permitted under state law.

In a five-minute special meeting on Tuesday, the City Council unanimously agreed to approve and recommend Cordish Companies to the Virginia Lottery Board. They have until today, May 31, to finalize and submit the paperwork to the lottery, solidifying their approval.

Temporary casino site and operating agency announced

As reported by the Petersburg Progress-Index, in “the resolution adopted Tuesday, Petersburg’s official casino partner will be PPE Casino Resorts Petersburg LLC.” Cordish has formed similar LLCs in other states where it operates or plans to operate.

This company will help lay out the plans for a temporary casino at a site off Wagner Road and Interstate 95. According to the Progress Index, the site will house 1,275 gaming spaces along with other casino amenities and operate while a permanent site is built.

Proposed site for Petersburg Casino.

Similar to a 2022 Virginia casino proposal submitted by Cordish, the permanent Petersburg casino will house 2,000 slots, 60 table games, poker, a sportsbook, and a 3,000-seat theater. The permanent Live! Casino Virginia will also have a 200-room hotel, restaurants and a convention center. Along with hotel casino amenities, there will also be residential and other commercial spaces rounding out the larger community.

City Council under fire over Petersburg selection

In April, Sen. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, hosted a town hall. At the event, Cordish and four other casino developers proposed plans to build Virginia’s fifth casino.

Since that public meeting, Cordish’s path to approval has been filled with questions and contentious criticism.

It started with an abrupt closed-door session of the Petersburg City Council. In the session, they chose Cordish as their preferred developer and then left without answering questions.

Shortly thereafter, a report emerged stating that John Altman Jr, city manager, signed a letter naming Bally’s as the chosen Petersburg casino developer. A letter which he never sent and which was speculated to have been a mere formality allowing the General Assembly to award a casino to Petersburg. Whatever the intention, Cordish prevailed, and Sen. Aird expressed her disapproval at the decision. Disapproval that she said owed in part to Bally’s stronger relationship with labor unions.

Other stakeholders, including Unite Here Local 25, a Virginia casino and hospitality worker’s union, aired their grievances with the decision to go with Cordish.

Despite the static, the Petersburg City Council has forged ahead with the plan to approve Cordish.

Next steps for Petersburg casino development

Once the City Council submits Cordish’s approval paperwork, the Virginia Lottery has 45 days to approve the plan. The plan then goes to a Circuit court judge for approval. If approved, a Petersburg casino referendum would appear on the November ballot.

Cordish has proposed that a temporary casino could be open by the end of 2025.

Photo by Steve Helber / AP Images
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Tyler Andrews

Tyler contributes regularly to, covering sports, sports law, and gambling for the Old Dominion. However, he has covered similar topics for PlayCA, PlayFlorida, PlayOhio, and PlayMA. Tyler’s current focus is Virginia's pathway to online casino legalization.

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