Recommendation For Richmond Casino Developer To Come By Month’s End

Posted on May 10, 2021 - Last Updated on May 31, 2021

City officials should have an official recommendation for the Richmond casino developer by the end of May.

And as the process hits the homestretch, it’s currently a two-horse race.

Although six hopefuls came out of the gate, just a pair of finalists now remain:

  • The Cordish Co.
  • Urban One and Colonial Downs

As a next step, the City of Richmond’s Resort Casino Evaluation Panel heads into the negotiation phase of the casino selection process. Once that process is complete, the panel will make its recommendation to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and the Richmond City Council.

Finding a Richmond casino developer

However, even with a recommendation, the Richmond casino isn’t a sure thing. Not yet, anyway.

The issue first will go before Richmond voters. On Election Day in November, voters in the Virginia capital city will decide whether to greenlight casino gambling and a casino-resort project. If they do approve it, they’ll join four other cities that overwhelmingly voted in favor of casinos in Virginia this past year.

Those other casino projects are in various stages of development.

However, the City of Richmond must first decide which potential development group will handle the project. And it’s a substantial decision. After all, the project alone will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Additionally, millions more are at stake with potential tax revenue, increased tourism and job creation/new hirings.

Six groups had submitted proposals by the late February deadline. The city eliminated three of them in March (Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Wind Creek Hospitality and Golden Nugget Hotels & Casinos, the latter of which is threatening legal action). Richmond then also eliminated a fourth (Bally’s Corp) in April.

Now, the finalists and their proposed projects include:

  • Cordish Cos.: $600 million Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond
  • Urban One and Colonial Downs: $517 million One Casino + Resort

The latest specs and features of each proposed resort can be found on the City of Richmond’s casino microsite.

Next steps after panel’s recommendation

The Resort Casino Evaluation Panel is a nine-member panel. It includes two members of the Richmond City Council (Ellen Robertson and Andreas Addison) and other local officials, who are consulting with Convergence Strategy Group.

The panel will consider the two finalists’ proposed operator, the location and the terms of the deal. Of course, their primary objective is to score the best deal possible for Richmond residents.

Those panel members are currently in ongoing discussions with the potential operators to complete this final step.

The panel expects to make its recommendation by May 31. Then, Mayor Stoney will make the announcement in early June.

Once he does, that casino developer and project will be put on the Nov. 2 ballots in Richmond.

If a simple majority approves the casino referendum on Election Day, the winning proposal will move forward.

Currently, casinos in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth are slated to open in 2022 and 2023. If formally approved, the Richmond casino would likely open in 2023 or 2024.

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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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