Campaigning intensifies ahead of Richmond Grand referendum

Richmond VA
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Urban One and Churchill Down are continuing to campaign in favor of its proposal to build a casino in Richmond, Virginia, and are securing endorsements from influential local sources. 

The two companies have proposed a $1.5bn casino resort in Richmond but is subject to a voter referendum which will take place next week. Campaigning efforts so far have seen the casino proposals gain the support of local workers’ unions. 

Backers of the casino proposals now include the Richmond Free Press, the local newspaper that cites the will of the residents of the southside of the city to have a casino in their neighborhood. One front-page splash read: “Vote yes for the Richmond Grand Resort and Casino. Southside residents voted by an 80% margin in support of the casino two years ago. They want it there because nothing ever comes over there.”

Mayor Levar M Stoney, the mayor of Richmond also tweeted his support for the proposals using the Richmond Free Press’s splash to propel his message. 

He tweeted: “Richmond Free Press Editorial Board urges Richmond residents to vote yes for the Richmond Grand Resort and Casino. It’s about time we LISTENED to our southside residents.”

This message was amplified by Neal Osbourne, mayor of Bristol, which was the first city in Virginia to open a casino. He stated: “Take it from the Mayor of the city with the first casino in Virginia and the locality that drove the push to legalize casino gaming in VA. This project will revitalize that area of Richmond with new development, new tax revenue, and most importantly, new jobs.”

While the local political establishment is in favor of the Richmond Grand, there is vocal opposition to the referendum. No Means No Casino is a pressure and campaign group aiming to replicate the “No” result that won out in 2021 when the first unsuccessful referendum was held. 

The group notes that a second referendum and a yes vote will go against the will of the people in 2021 and “undermines our democracy and erodes trust in local governance. Let’s uphold the integrity of our civic processes.”

No Means No Casino has a series of testimonials on why the casino development should not be approved, with societal problems, addiction and religious reasons cited. 

“I’m against the casino because it takes away from our neighborhood’s unique character,” said one resident. “Richmond is a place of history, culture, and community. A casino just turns us into another generic city, losing what makes us special.”

The referendum will take place on November 7 which will determine whether Richmond will be the fifth city in Virginia to approve a casino since the 2020 bill to legalize casino gaming in the state.