Workers’ unions back Richmond casino second referendum

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Several key workers’ unions have thrown their support behind the second referendum to authorize a land-based casino in south Richmond

The Richmond Building and Construction Rades Council, and Unite Here 23 & 25 have lauded the “major opportunity” that the development would bring to its members and the strong career prospects that could come if the casino plan is pushed through at the ballot box. 

Following council and lottery approval, Churchill Downs and Urban One’s venture RVA Entertainment will get a second referendum after a 2021 effort was narrowly defeated. 

“We respect Urban One and Churchill Downs’ demonstrated commitment to Richmond,” said Paul Schwalb, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Unite Here Local 25. “The resort will bring over 1,300 family-sustaining jobs to the region during construction and when the resort opens for operation.”

As part of its mission to promote sustainable economic development in Richmond, the coalition of labor unions are strongly in favor of voting for the casino development and will urge voters to join them in doing so. 

“This half-billion-dollar project will mean opportunities for incumbent area construction workers and for city residents desiring to enter an apprenticeship and start their careers,” Schwalb continued.

“We support this project and urge all Richmonders to vote for it, because it respects the work of our members. These middle-class careers in construction have family-sustaining wages, health insurance and a secure retirement.”

In the coming weeks, RVA Entertainment Holdings will reveal the design and vision for the casino resort, which is set to be built near Commerce Road in South Richmond. 

The group did note some of the economic benefits that the casino would bring as it set out its stall ahead of the election campaign. It claims that the resort will generate $30m in total tax revenue for the city per year, as well as a one-time $26.5m payment upon passage and 1,300 jobs. 

The vote will take place in November after the Virginia Lottery gave final approval to the decision which was passed through the City Council earlier in the summer.