Richmond union rallies behind casino plans in referendum

Richmond VA
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A voters union has thrown its support behind plans to bring a $1.5bn casino resort to Richmond, Virginia and has encouraged the city’s electorate to approve the development. 

The Richmond Crusade for Voters has issued a statement outlining its support for the referendum, which will take place this fall to determine whether Churchill Downs and Urban One can proceed with its casino development in the city. 

Voters will take part in a referendum on the matter for a second time after narrowly rejecting the proposals in 2021. But the Richmond City Council voted through the second vote earlier this year, and the Virginia Lottery – the regulator of casinos in the state – gave the green light too. 

Now campaigning is firmly under way and the Richmond Crusade for voters has outlined the potential benefits of the development. 

A statement read: “The Richmond Crusade for Voters, which has fought for more than 70 years to protect Richmonders’ right to vote, has officially endorsed the proposed Richmond Grand Resort and Casino and is encouraging all of its members to exercise their right to vote for candidates of their choice and for this important economic opportunity for the City of Richmond.

“The Crusade successfully fought to protect Richmonders’ right to vote on a proposed resort casino in Richmond when the General Assembly attempted to take it away. The Crusade also successfully forced the Richmond Electoral Board to reverse its illegal attempt to limit early voting in predominantly minority neighborhoods.”

RVA Entertainment Holdings, comprising Churchill Downs and Urban One, is proposing a $500m development that it claims would contribute $30m in taxes per year and 1300 jobs. 

Should the referendum go in its favor, the casino would feature a luxury hotel with live entertainment and conference venues, dining options, gaming facilities with slot games, table games, and a sportsbook, as well as green spaces. 

The plans for a second referendum came despite a legal challenge from a charitable bingo hall, which claimed a casino development would canniabalize its business. 

Yet the ruling judge declined the challenge explaining that “arguably, Good Lions’ alleged future loss of gaming revenue might be fairly traceable to the 2019 legislation of the Virginia General Assembly allowing casino gambling, but that government action is not what Good Lions seeks to challenge”.

The referendum will take place on November 7 with the Richmond Crusade for Voters hoping for a positive result that goes in its favor. 

Its statement concluded: “The Richmond Crusade for Voters has endorsed the Richmond Grand proposal based on its ability to create good paying jobs that lift more Richmonders into the middle class, and the promise of $30m in revenue to invest in Richmond’s children. 

“Richmond Grand will create 1,300 union careers that average $55,000 in annual compensation including good benefits like healthcare and retirement, and thousands of union jobs during construction.

“The Crusade also highlighted the creation of a new park in Southside, which will give more Richmond residents and families a safe place to exercise, play, and get outside.”