Virginia Senator Amends Proposal for Constructing Casino in Fairfax County

Quick Intro

The advancement of Virginia State Senator Dave Marsden’s bill marks a notable movement in transforming Fairfax County’s economic scenario. This bill, aiming to facilitate the establishment of a resort-style casino akin to the MGM National Harbor, now comes with a significant change — it narrows down the possible location for the casino exclusively to a specific area.

Sen. Marsden’s Revised Casino Bill Targets Tysons Location

Senator Marsden, revisiting his previous legislative effort which faced challenges, especially from Reston residents, has tactically refined the bill. The new version explicitly specifies Tysons as the sole eligible location for the casino, a shift reported by NBC Washington. The bill outlines precise criteria for the site: it must be within a quarter-mile radius of a Metro Silver Line station, part of a mixed-use project, away from Dulles airport’s flight path, within two miles of a major shopping center with a minimum of 1.5 million square feet of space, and outside the Interstate 495 Beltway. Notably, it identifies a particular plot in Tysons, formerly an auto dealership on Route 7, as the potential site.

To become law, the bill must first pass through Virginia’s General Assembly and receive Governor Glenn Youngkin’s signature. Gov. Youngkin’s office has stated that he will consider any legislation that comes his way. If the bill is enacted, the Fairfax County Board would then be tasked with requesting a referendum, allowing local voters to decide on the casino’s establishment. Should voters approve, the county would embark on a competitive process to select developers, who would then seek a casino operator for the project.

Uncertainties Surround Fairfax Casino Proposal Despite Economic Promise

Advocates for the casino project envision it as a multifaceted development, encompassing not just gaming, but also a convention center, hotels, dining establishments, office spaces, and residential areas. This ambitious plan aims to counter the declining commercial real estate tax revenue, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting funding for county resources.

State Senator Scott Surovell, the Democratic Majority Leader, emphasizes the need for new revenue sources to alleviate the tax pressure on homeowners. He argues that without alternative revenues, the financial responsibility for sustaining high-quality education will fall to homeowners, highlighting the necessity for Fairfax County to diversify its revenue base.

However, the journey towards realizing a casino in Fairfax County is fraught with challenges. Despite the 2019 study by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission highlighting potential economic and employment benefits, there’s significant resistance from local governments and community associations within the Tysons area. The project’s success is contingent on legislative support and the county voters’ decision.

Community Response and Legislative Hurdles for Fairfax Casino

The proposed casino in Fairfax County faces a complex mix of community responses and legislative hurdles. Local residents and governing bodies express varied opinions, ranging from support due to the potential economic boost to concerns over social implications and community impact. The legislative process itself presents multiple stages of approval, making the path to realization intricate and uncertain.

Final Thoughts

The revised bill for a casino in Fairfax County by Senator Marsden presents both opportunities and challenges. While it promises economic revitalization, it also faces significant community and legislative hurdles. The ultimate decision lies in the hands of Fairfax County’s residents, reflecting the democratic process in determining the region’s future landscape.