Richmond Casino Vote Tuesday To Be Tight; Latest Poll 50/50

Written By Hill Kerby on November 7, 2023
Rendering of a proposed casino in Richmond on a story about voters in the city possibly choosing to OK it being built.

Richmond voters will determine whether or not to allow the fifth Virginia casino in their city on Tuesday. According to the most recent polls, residents of the state’s capital are split right down the middle.

A poll was conducted by co/efficient of 914 Richmonders between Oct. 23-25, and the results couldn’t be much closer.

  • 39% would vote Yes
  • 10% would likely vote Yes
  • 9% would likely vote No
  • 43% would vote No

The survey’s margin of error was 3.23%. The results add up to 101% due to rounding.

This is the second time a casino proposal has been on the ballot in Richmond. The 2021 Richmond casino referendum lost narrowly, receiving 38,750 votes (49.05%) in support compared to 40,243 votes (50.95%) against it. 

Developers have spent 26 times more than opponents

Virginia legalized retail casino gambling in April 2020 in only five cities. Residents in each of the five would then have to vote for a casino to be built in their city. Virginia online casinos remain illegal.

After voters rejected a casino referendum in 2021, Richmond became the only city without a casino or a plan to begin developing one out of the five cities that were approved for one.

The city got its second chance at a casino in July when the Virginia Lottery and Richmond Circuit Court approved ballot access for casino developer RVA Entertainment Holdings LLC.’s proposed $562.5 million ONE Casino and Resort in South Richmond.

RVA, a joint venture between Urban One and Churchill Downs, was also the approved developer of the 2021 referendum. It has ramped up its 2023 efforts, hoping to gain more support at crunch time by spending another $1 million on Nov. 2.

Since gaining ballot access, RVA has spent more than $9 million on campaign efforts. Comparatively, the primary opponent, the No Means No political action committee, has spent less than $350,000

Despite the spending discrepancy, the numbers have not changed much from last month or two years ago. A Founders Insight poll from September yielded 44% in favor, 44% in opposition and 12% undecided. 

The most recent poll also asked how participants voted in 2021. It revealed that most people feel the same way, and a near-equal percentage of people have changed their views in both directions.

  • 46% voted No in 2021
  • 45% voted Yes in 2021
  • 10% were unsure or didn’t vote
  • 9% of Yes votes said they would vote No or likely vote No in 2023
  • 10% of No votes said they would vote Yes or likely vote Yes in 2023

Virginia casinos have paid $68.8M in 2023 taxes

Virginia had no casinos when Richmond voters defeated the 2021 referendum. Now, it has three, with plans for a fourth on hold

The other three Virginia casinos have combined to generate more than $400 million in revenue in 2023, resulting in $68.8 million in taxes for the state. Six percent of that ($4.1 million) goes to local communities for each casino.

  • Rivers Casino Portsmouth (Opened in January): $183.8 million in revenue; $31.8 million in taxes ($1.9 million local)
  • HR Bristol (Opened July 2022): $128.9 million in revenue; $21.7 million in taxes ($1.2 million local)
  • Caesars Danville Casino (Opened in May): $91 million in revenue; $15.2 million in taxes ($913K local)

This money does not take into account the additional economic impacts that cities get from increased visitors who stay overnight, eat, recreate, etc. 

RVA projects the new venture will bring Richmond $30 million in annual revenue, but those prospects aren’t swaying voters either. Local opposition stems from many reasons, including a lack of trust in RVA and believing that a casino will cause the community more harm than good.

Developers have overcome obstacles to make it onto the ballot

We will find out come Nov. 7 whose efforts paid off between RVA and its opposition. RVA has already staved off the local charity, Lodge No. 1 of the Good Lions, which filed a motion to remove the referendum from the ballot in August.

A Richmond Circuit Court judge rejected the notion, saying Lodge No. 1 had no claims against a future loss of gaming revenue or lack of a competitive bidding process. Lodge No. 1 made no casino bid, and the judge said its complaints were misguided.

Since July, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has advocated for the casino project and the 1,300 new jobs it will create. Stoney has cited Richmond’s potential economic growth and the ability to help struggling citizens among his reasons for support.

If Richmond voters approve the referendum, ONE Casino and Resort will include:

  • 100,000 square feet of gaming space, including 2,000 slot machines, 100 table games, a poker room and a sportsbook.
  • 15 bars and restaurants
  • The 3,000-seat event center with 200 annual concerts and shows
  • Resort-style spa and salon
  • 55-acre park and green space
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of safe, legal betting, and is grateful to be able to contribute to growing the industry. He has a background in poker, sports, and psychology, all of which he incorporates into his writing.

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