Northern Virginia Casino Referendum Bill Progresses in Legislature

Quick Intro

In Falls Church, Virginia, a significant legislative development occurred when a state Senate committee voted to move forward a bill permitting a referendum on establishing a casino in the northern Virginia suburbs. This bill paves the way for Fairfax County to potentially host a casino, convention center, and concert hall in Tysons Corner, amidst one of the nation’s wealthiest suburbs. Despite facing opposition from local civic groups and homeowner associations, the proposal has garnered attention, with several senators receiving a high volume of emails and letters against the plan.

Potential Economic Benefits of Casino in Northern Virginia

Senator David Marsden, D-Fairfax, the bill’s sponsor, emphasized the casino’s potential to diversify Fairfax County’s tax base. He pointed out that the county, once a robust economic hub, is facing challenges in the post-pandemic era, with many government contractors working remotely and leaving office spaces vacant. Marsden remarked during a subcommittee hearing, “This is the canary in the coal mine that our economy is changing in northern Virginia, and we need this help.” He advocates for the casino as a means to rejuvenate the local economy and address these changes.

The Senate’s General Laws and Technology Committee showed support with a 10-4 vote in favor and one abstention. This move follows Virginia’s 2020 decision to allow casinos in five cities, contingent upon referendums. Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, and Norfolk have voted in favor, while Richmond voters have twice rejected proposals.

Another bill under consideration would allow Petersburg to hold a casino referendum, potentially replacing Richmond’s opportunity.

Senator Marsden also highlighted the strategic benefits of a casino in northern Virginia, noting its potential to attract patrons from affluent Maryland suburbs and retain revenue that currently flows to Maryland’s MGM casino.

Additional Remarks and Decisions by Sen. David Marsden

Marsden further pointed out the geographical and financial advantages of a northern Virginia casino, which legislative studies suggest could generate the most tax revenue. Despite concerns about traffic and crime, the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce supports the bill.

Additionally, the committee voted to support legislation allowing online sportsbooks to accept wagers on games involving in-state colleges, a move that could significantly impact the sports betting landscape in Virginia.

Final Thoughts

The advancement of this bill marks a critical step in potentially transforming northern Virginia’s economic and entertainment landscape. With potential benefits like tax revenue diversification and regional economic revitalization, the proposed casino and associated developments hold promise, despite the existing concerns and opposition. The upcoming decisions and referendums will be pivotal in shaping the future of gaming and economic development in the region.