Richmond Receives 6 Casino Proposals; November Referendum Set

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By Andi Petrini

The city of Richmond has received proposals for casinos from six potential operators.

City residents will have to pass a referendum in November for casino construction. Four other cities voted in 2020 to approve casinos in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Bristol and Danville. The General Assembly passed legislation allowing for five casinos in 2020.

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The proposals will go to the city for evaluation, with one being selected by June, according to a timeline on its site.

After four companies announced they had submitted proposals, the Associated Press reported two others.

Golden Nugget, based in Houston, submitted plans to build a $400 million casino resort at a location that hasn’t been disclosed yet, according to AP. And another proposal came in from Wind Creek Hospitality. The gaming company, owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama, has plans for a $541 million casino resort in South Richmond.

Here are the other four proposals based on operator announcements:

Bally’s

Bally’s Corp. submitted a proposal for a $650 million project of 1.6 million square feet located on 61 acres along the western border of the city.

Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort, according to the release, will include a 250-room hotel, 3,000 seat multi-use event space, spa, 13 bars and restaurants, pool and visitor center, with an anticipated opening in 2024.

Minority stakeholders will include some with Richmond ties — the Lanier Family (Lanier United is to provide the construction), Pro Football Hall of Famer Darrell Green and Warren Thompson of Thompson Hospitality, which the release states is the nation's largest minority-owned food and facilities management company.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with the Lanier Family, Darrell Green and Warren Thompson, each of whom has deep and significant ties to the greater Richmond community,” George Papanier, president and chief executive officer of Bally's Corp., said in the release. “Through these partnerships, we will support, utilize and develop lasting relationships with local and minority-owned businesses. We also look forward to working with historically Black colleges and universities to provide education and training opportunities, internship programs and prospects for long-term employment."

Urban One/Colonial Downs Group

It would be the first Black-owned casino in the country, according to its press release. Urban One Inc. has partnered with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, the parent company of Colonial Downs Group and Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums, in its Richmond proposal.

The $517 million project, referred to as ONE Casino Resort in the release, is planned for 300,000 square feet off Interstate 95 in the Southside of the city. It will feature 150 hotel rooms, 90,000 square feet of gaming space, 12 bars and restaurants, a 3,000-seat theater and 50-plus acres of green space.

Urban One, a media company founded by Cathy Hughes nearly 40 years ago, says it plans to partner with Live Nation to host more than 200 shows a year.

The casino project is estimated to bring $47 million in annual revenue to Richmond, and 1,500 jobs.

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Urban One has a minority ownership stake in MGM National Harbor in Maryland.

“Urban One is proud of our 40-year history in serving the Black community and developing unique partnerships that create enormous business opportunities,” Alfred C. Liggins, III, chief executive officer of Urban One, said in the release. “If selected, ONE Casino Resort would be the only Black-owned casino in the United States — an incredible opportunity for the historical City of Richmond. Given our experience with MGM, and our local ties here in Richmond, we are uniquely positioned as an ideal, long-term business partner with the City of Richmond.”

Cordish Cos.

The Cordish Cos. submitted its proposal for PPE Casino Resorts Richmond, a $600 million project planned for the Scotts Addition area of the city near I-64 and I-95.

The project features a 250,000-square foot casino, 300-plus room hotel, spa, 4,000-capcity entertainment venue, and 18 bars and restaurants.

The Cordish Cos. have developed Live! Casino and Hotels in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and Hard Rock Casino and Hotels in Hollywood and Tampa, Florida.

National Football Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, of Virginia Beach, is one of the partners for the Richmond location.

The casino is projected to generate $5.3 billion of economic impact for the city in its first 10 years and create 3,000 permanent jobs, according to the release.

“No gaming or development company in the country has our track record of successfully designing, financing, building and operating large-scale casino entertainment resort destinations in regional markets,” Zed Smith, chief operating officer and partner of The Cordish Cos., said in the announcement.

Pamunkey Indian Tribe

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe, already approved to develop a casino in Norfolk beginning this year, submitted a proposal for a $350 million project in the southern end of the city, just off I-95 and on 24.5 acres. The tribe’s reservation is along the Pamunkey River in nearby King William County, just southeast of the city.

The site was purchased by the tribe’s development team in October 2019, and according to its release, is the only group whose ownership is 100% minority and based in Virginia.

The Pamunkey proposal includes a 300-room hotel, spa, rooftop pool, several restaurants and event space.

The Pamunkey Resort and Casino of Richmond is estimated to serve 5.3 million visits a year, according to its release, with 67% of visitors from outside the city.

“The tribe couldn’t be more excited about this proposal to bring world-class gaming and entertainment to Richmond,” Robert Gray, Pamunkey Indian Tribe chief, said in its release. “We are committed to the community and will reinvest into the City to make it even stronger. Our passion for lifting all communities stems from our own history of being denied opportunities. This isn’t just about gaming; it’s about making a better life for Richmonders through new career opportunities and by providing the resources to tackle the challenges facing the city.”

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Andi Petrini
Andi Petrini is a Virginia-based freelance journalist for TopUSCasinos.com. She has nearly 20 years of experience in newsrooms in Virginia and North Carolina, and has been a team editor for sports, news and features. She also led the internship program at the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), and was a member of Associated Press Sports Editors.
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Andi Petrini is a Virginia-based freelance journalist for TopUSCasinos.com. She has nearly 20 years of experience in newsrooms in Virginia and North Carolina, and has been a team editor for sports, news and features. She also led the internship program at the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), and was a member of Associated Press Sports Editors.
... Read More