Richmond Casino Options Narrow: Two Proposals Remain

Odds increased for two groups who have proposed casino plans in Richmond when an evaluation committee eliminated a proposal from Bally’s Corp. from consideration.

The city seems to have responded to protests from residents of the Stratford Hills neighborhood and negative reaction to the Bally’s proposal from neighboring areas. Critics posed concerns over traffic, noise, and crime.

This leaves two proposals still on the table, from Baltimore-based The Cordish Cos. and Urban One, based in Silver Spring, Maryland. The city has not set a deadline for making a decision, but if a plan is approved, it’s expected to be placed on the ballot for a vote in November. Previously, four Virginia cities have approved casino proposals: Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.

Two Proposals For Richmond Casinos

The Cordish Co. has proposed a lavish $600 million Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond resort near the Scott’s Addition neighborhood. The casino and resort would be situated on land where the former Movieland theater was located. The Cordish plan calls for a hotel with 300 rooms and 30 suites. It would also feature a 4,000-seat entertainment venue. The casino would offer 250,000 square feet of gaming space. 

Upon learning that Bally’s was eliminated from consideration, Cordish sweetened their deal this week, pledging more than $200 million in community benefit payments to the city in the first 15 years of the project. According to a statement from Cordish, the funds would “help fund critical community services such as education, infrastructure, health care, parks [and] recreation, workforce development and affordable housing.” Cordish, which operates casinos in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Florida, estimates that a Richmond casino and resort would create 5,000 construction jobs and 3,000 jobs in the city. The project is expected to cost $600 million.

Anxious to secure the project, Urban One recently upped their commitment to $600 million for what they are calling ONE casino. The casino would be located on 100 acres on Richmond’s South Side. 

Unlike Bally’s and Cordish Co., Urban One is not directly a gaming company. Their proposal patches together a partnership with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, the ownership group that operates Rosie’s Gaming Emporium franchises.    

Urban One owns the TV One cable network, Reach Media, as well as 55 radio stations sprinkled across the country. Urban One is the largest African-American-owned broadcasting company in the United States. Their Richmond casino proposal includes a 200-room hotel, 3,000-seat theater, 90,000 square feet of gaming space, 12 bars and/or restaurants, and a sportsbook.

The advisory committee is expected to make a recommendation to the Richmond City Council later this spring, and a vote would likely come in June. At that point, the matter would go to voters in November, in what is expected to be a positive result.

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