‘Extremely Disappointed’: City Of Richmond Eliminates Three Casino Proposals

Posted on March 25, 2021

The City of Richmond has eliminated three proposals, including one from the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, from consideration for its possible casino-resort development.

Richmond officials announced on Wednesday that the city had rejected the Pamunkey proposal. Officials also eliminated Golden Nugget Hotels & Casinos and Wind Creek Hospitality from the running.

Three other companies remain and now move forward in the selection process. They include:

  • Bally’s Corporation
  • The Cordish Co.
  • Urban One and Colonial Downs

Virginia lawmakers legalized casino gambling in 2020. Richmond voters will decide on a casino referendum on Election Day in November. If it passed, the capital city will join four other cities that overwhelmingly approved Virginia brick-and-mortar casinos during the most recent election cycle.

Pamunkey Indian Tribe issues stinging rebuke

Richmond officials said they considered the full proposals before making their decision. That process ultimately cut the field from six to three.

“These proposals did not advance due to factors such as lack of site control, concerns about the feasibility of financial projections, lack of organizational experience and/or deficiency of the proposal,” a statement read.

However, Pamunkey Indian Tribe officials weren’t pleased with that assessment. The federally recognized Virginia-based tribe had proposed the $350 million Pamunkey Casino Resort Richmond. It planned to build the resort off Interstate 95 in the 5000 block of Commerce Road.

What Pamunkey had to say

As Pamunkey Chief Robert Gray said in a statement:

“The Pamunkey Indian Tribe was extremely disappointed to learn directly from the City of Richmond that its casino proposal would not receive any further consideration in the Richmond casino selection process. The timing of the decision, which comes before the public comment period has even concluded, seriously undermines confidence in the selection process and suggests a pre-determined outcome has been reached.

The timing of this decision also suggests that public and community input will not be seriously considered in this process. Further, it appears that the City of Richmond did not afford the Pamunkey Indian Tribe the optional preference in state law that recognizes the Pamunkey Tribe’s ancestral heritage in the region. The Pamunkey Indian Tribe submitted the only 100 percent minority-owned, Virginia-based proposal.

We were shocked to learn of our early dismissal from a process occurring in our native region and state, particularly in light of the fact that the Tribe was one of the first entities – if not the first – to talk to the City about gaming before commercial gaming was legalized in the Commonwealth.”

The Pamunkey proposal now joins the scrap heap. So, too, does the proposed $400 million Golden Nugget Richmond Hotel & Casino and the $541 million Wind Creek Richmond.

Next steps for Richmond casino

The remaining contenders for the Richmond casino include:

  • Bally’s Corporation: $650 million Bally Richmond Casino Resort. It would be located on a 61-acre site at the corner of Powhite Parkway and Chippenham Parkway in South Richmond.
  • The Cordish Co.: $600 million Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond. It would be located on the 17-acre site “Movieland property” at the intersection of North Arthur Ashe Boulevard and West Leigh Street in Scott’s Addition.
  • Urban One and Colonial Downs: $517 million casino-resort (name TBA). It would be located on the former Altria Operations Center site on South Commerce Road.

A nine-member evaluation panel ultimately decided on the three finalists. The panel, which includes two Richmond City Council members, will continue evaluating the remaining three.

Feedback on the casino proposals

The City of Richmond is also hosting a number of virtual community meetings to get feedback from residents. In fact, three are scheduled for next week. However, during a meeting earlier this week, officials made no mention that the list of hopefuls would be cut in half the following day.

Additionally, according to Richmond.com, Councilwoman Katherine Jordan plans to oppose the Cordish proposal, primarily due to its location:

“My constituents don’t want it, the thriving greater Scott’s Addition doesn’t need it, and gaming and college sports just don’t mix. I welcome the developers to look at other non-gaming investments in our city.”

Based on the community meetings and online feedback from residents, additional and organized opposition to the proposals is likely in the coming months.

Photo by Dreamstime.com
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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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