Virginia Legislators Decide to Remove Richmond from Casino Expansion Plans

Quick Intro

Following the decisive rejection by Richmond voters of a casino proposal for the second time, Virginia’s legislators have unanimously agreed to definitively exclude Richmond from future considerations for casino development.

Unanimous Decision Marks Richmond’s Casino Exclusion

In an unprecedented show of unity, the Virginia General Assembly took a significant step to bar Richmond from hosting any future casino projects. This legislative decision was reflected in a resounding 100-0 vote by the House of Delegates and a 40-0 vote in the state Senate, as reported by 8News WRIC. This bipartisan move underscores the lawmakers’ respect for the Richmond electorate’s repeated disapproval of the casino proposal.

Championed by Richmond’s own representatives, Del. Betsy Carr and state Sen. Lamont Bagby, this legislative action responds to the city residents’ firm rejection of the casino initiatives. Sen. Bagby highlighted the importance of adhering to the electorate’s voice, noting his commitment to representing the citizens’ choice, which was clearly manifested through their double denial of the proposal.

This legislative initiative aims to revise the state code, which had previously considered cities like Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville, and Bristol for casino developments but also had provisions that could extend to Richmond under certain criteria.

Legislative Response to Repeated Referendums

Pending approval by Governor Glenn Youngkin, the new legislation will officially render Richmond ineligible for casino consideration by removing the specific criteria that previously qualified the city. This includes factors such as population size, which, according to the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, had placed Richmond’s population over the 230,000 threshold in 2018, and property tax exemptions, with more than a quarter of the city’s real estate value exempted in fiscal year 2018.

This legislative turn comes in the wake of Richmond’s failed attempts to secure a casino, with the proposals being decisively turned down in referendums held in 2021 and again in November 2023.

As the legislative process progresses, discussions regarding Petersburg’s potential eligibility for hosting a casino are ongoing. Meanwhile, Fairfax County’s consideration for a casino referendum has been deferred to 2025. Although there has been no immediate comment from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s office regarding these developments, the 2024 General Assembly session is expected to wrap up on March 9, marking the end of this significant legislative period.

Richmond’s Casino Debate: Reflecting Community Values

In a landmark decision, Virginia’s legislative body has honored the voices of Richmond’s citizens by voting to exclude the city from the list of potential casino sites. This move highlights a profound respect for local sentiment and democratic choice, following Richmond voters’ clear rejection of casino proposals not once, but twice. It underscores the importance of community values in shaping policy and development plans, setting a precedent for future decisions in Virginia’s approach to gambling and urban development.