State Senator Promises Push For Fairfax County Casino If Re-Elected

Written By T.J. McBride on October 31, 2023
Photo of Virginia State Senator David Marsden on a story about his push for a casino if re-elected.

At a recent candidates forum at George Mason University’s Fairfax campus, state Sen. David Marsden made it clear that if he is re-elected on Nov. 7, he would put forward casino legislation.

Marsden’s bill would allow the residents of Fairfax County to decide for themselves if they want to have a new casino in their community via voter referendum.

Marsden expects a fight over the measure from lawmakers opposed to expanding gaming.

Marsden wants Fairfax County residents to decide if they want a casino

The casino bill lawmakers approved in 2020 allowed for casinos only in five select cities. No approved cities were in Fairfax County, which included Alexandria, the fifth largest city in Virginia by population. Virginia online casinos remain illegal.

Marsden says the Metro Silver Line subway stop in Fairfax County was built to bring in more people to stimulate the economy. Adding a casino to that community makes sense in Marsden’s mind because so much money was put into the station and even more money is being lost to Maryland casinos nearby.

“That’s what the Silver Line was created for. That’s what the business community paid extra taxes for, was to create the Silver Line to do high-density development. We’re losing $150 million a year to MGM at National Harbor. Virginians are going over there. We’re funding Maryland schools.”

Marsden also made it clear this is not a casino bill that is forcibly adding a gaming facility in an area that did not ask for it. This proposal is to simply allow the residents of Fairfax County to decide for themselves if they want a casino.

“It’s not a casino bill in terms of mandating one. It’s to provide a referendum so that Fairfax County citizens could make the decision.”

Contender not a fan of casinos in Virginia

Republican Virginia Senate candidate Mark Vafiades says he’s against all casinos in Virginia. During the forum, Vafiades said casinos bring more negatives than positives.

“I’m very much against a casino. It tends to tax and when I say tax, I don’t mean from the government. It taxes the people who can least afford it. If you look at the casinos, it’s not really rich people smoking cigars. It’s people that are trying to take what money they have and make it more, and, of course, ends up the other way around. It’s very bad for those people.”

Vafiades says he would not go against Fairfax County residents if they voted to add a casino.

“It’s up to the citizens of that district, whether they want that casino. I’m against casinos in general. I wouldn’t introduce a bill for a casino, but if the citizens decide that’s what they want, then that’s that.”

A new casino in Fairfax County could revive a struggling community

Many in support of a new casino in Fairfax say they want to help a struggling community. Fairfax needs an influx of revenue, entertainment options and boost to tourism.

The one thing that has not been decided on is which exact part of Fairfax County would install a casino. Marsden feels that the Tysons Corner area makes more sense than Reston Station, which has been considered sine late 2022.

“I believe that it belongs in the Tysons area. That’s sort of our downtown. Our commercial real estate market here locally is deteriorating rapidly. These are all 10-year leases on these buildings that people who rent space that they have and people who had 50,000 square feet now want 10,000. People who had 10,000 now don’t want any. Revenue in the county is deteriorating and I’m worried that Tysons Corner will become a ghost town because people are working from home.”

Republican Delegate Wren Williams, who introduced an identical bill in January, agrees that Tysons Corner is the ideal spot. Williams outlined the benefits of a casino to WMAL News when he outlined the benefits of a casino.

“Additional tourism, additional entertainment for younger generations and also tax revenue.

“It will be great for unions who are going to be constructing these facilities and also great for Unite Here, who does most of the union operations. It will create great jobs for the county.”

If a casino is added in Fairfax County, regardless of which location is chosen, Marsden’s hope is that it is the beginning of bringing Fairfax into the future by adapting to the times.

“All I’ll be doing is introducing the bill that will get Fairfax County residents the choice to make that decision, because we’re going to have to do something about our economy here in Fairfax, in terms of generating revenue that we need to operate the world-class school system we have, the mental health services we have, which are the best in the commonwealth of Virginia. We just need to take a look at the future and realize that things are not always going to be as they have been in the past.”

Photo by Associated Press
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