Will Voters Approve A Richmond Casino In 2023?

Written By T.J. McBride on August 7, 2023
Can Richmond casino plans gain voter approval this time?

After rejecting plans for a casino in 2021, Richmond voters will get a chance to change their minds in November. This time around, the appetite for a destination casino in Richmond could be much different.

The new proposal for a destination resort and casino was recently approved by the Virginia Lottery and Richmond Circuit Court, which means it will be on the ballot this fall.

After losing by just 1,200 votes in 2021, there is renewed hope the Richmond casino plans will pass this time and construction can begin in early 2024.

Proponents calling Richmond casino plans a ‘destination resort’ this time

Currently, there are permanent or temporary Virginia casinos in Bristol, Danville and Portsmouth. In Norfolk, the Pawmunkey Tribe hopes to begin construction on the state’s fourth casino this year.

The 2023 plans to add a casino in Richmond are largely unchanged from the 2021 version. The only alterations come in the form of marketing. Instead of pushing for a casino, the new plans are being pitched as a destination resort.

Regardless of what the facility is called, adding a casino in Richmond would significantly grow the state’s gambling industry.

The destination resort, ONE Casino and Resort, will be developed by RVA Entertainment Holdings, a joint venture by Urban One Inc. and Churchill Downs Inc.

Alfred Liggins, CEO of Urban One, is excited to get another crack at bringing a destination resort to Richmond.

“We are ready to elevate our 20-year-plus relationship with Richmonders by presenting opportunities for real economic impact.”

The original plans included 100,000 square feet of gaming space that would include over 1,800 slot machines, more than 100 table games, a poker room and a sportsbook. The Legacy Tower complex would house 250 hotel rooms as well as a business center, fitness room and 55 acres of green space. Plans included the Rise Theater featuring live shows. ONE will also include 15 restaurants and bars.

There’s been no word if the original plans have been altered in any way. The complex was originally expected to cost around $565 million.

Much has changed in Virginia since the 2021 vote

Despite failing once, there is optimism this new measure will pass. Since 2021, three casinos have opened in Virginia. They have enjoyed significant success and benefitted the state with tax revenue.

In June, the three casinos generated an adjusted gross revenue of over $52 million.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth led the way with $20.5 million, followed by Caesars Danville Casino with $18.9 million. HR Bristol generated $12.7 million. More than $6.3 million was paid to the state.

Those returns could convince a majority of voters in Richmond to approve the casino in November.

Mayor of Richmond strongly in favor of the destination resort

There is plenty of support for the destination resort and casino. Few, though, have been as vocal as Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. He made his support clear in an interview with Virginia Business.

“I am excited to see the Virginia Lottery and the Richmond Circuit Court approve the referendum for a Richmond destination resort and entertainment venue that will provide 1,300 good-paying jobs and an estimated $30 million in annual revenue to tackle our community’s greatest needs.”

Stoney said putting the casino in South Richmond will provide economic growth for a community that desperately needs it.

“This special economic development opportunity in South Richmond gives the city an additional way to address equity and community wealth gaps. As the city continues to work on diversity, equity and inclusion, the casino project can assist with leveling the playing field for many Richmonders who continue to struggle during these uncertain and unprecedented times.”

Photo by Shutterstock
T.J. McBride Avatar
Written by
T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He is a Nuggets beat writer and also covers the regulated gambling industry across the U.S. His byline can be seen at ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report and more.

View all posts by T.J. McBride