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Golden Nugget denies it will legally challenge Richmond in casino deal - update

Published: May 7, 2021, 12: 01 hrs.

Last updated: May 7, 2021, 59: 59 hrs.

Devin O'Connor

UPDATE : Steven L. Scheinthal, executive vice president and general counsel of Golden Nugget, says the casino is not threatening any legal action in Virginia. He says, " We sent responses to the request for proposals and did not prevail. There were multiple bidders and there can only be one winner. We lost and accept this result. "

The casino proposal by the Golden Nugget was one of three bids that the city of Richmond, Virginia, rejected in March.

Golden Nugget Richmond casino Virginia
Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta speaks during a meeting with restaurant industry executives at the White House last year. His casino unit recently lost a bid to build a resort in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo: AP )

In late March, Richmond Mayor Levar Stone's office announced that three of the six casino bids for the city's lone gaming permit had been rejected. Along with the Golden Nugget, proposals from Virginia's Pamunkey Indian Tribe and Wind Creek Hospitality were no longer considered.

The Richmond Department of Economic Development created an evaluation panel to address each review. The agency found that these rejections were made for a variety of reasons, including lack of on-site inspections, concerns about the likelihood of financial revenue projections, inadequate bidding and lack of organizational experience.

Dennis Cotto, who has practiced law in Virginia for three decades and is an expert in procurement law, says Golden Nugget's rejection was wrong. Cotto was a partner in Golden Nugget's Richmond casino ambitions.

Cotto claims Richmond ignored state procurement laws and did not allow the casino company to address or appeal the city's concerns about the rejection.

Rules for competitive tendering

Procurement regulations for government tenders are designed to ensure the city gets the best bid for a pittance and the process is free of corruption and arbitrary decisions. Procurement regulations are additionally the right of bidders to a fair progress of the government in selecting the winning proposal.

It's a matter of principle. " Cotto said Richmond Free Press this week. "There can be no procurement that is not subject to the procurement rules and procedures.

"I've lost bids before, but I always got a summary. I wasn't always happy with what I was told, but at least I had my day. This time I was told there would be no summary, and that is the first of my experiences ".

Cotto produced a letter from the city explaining that the Golden Nugget program was dismissed because the company failed to secure land for a destination casino resort or provide the city with an alternative location.

Cotto argues that the city did not require any of these conditions to be met when submitting the request for proposals.

Steven L.Scheinthal, executive vice president and general counsel of Golden Nugget, says that Mr. Cotto does not speak for Golden Nugget and that the company "lost fairly" in Richmond. Scheinthal adds that Golden Nugget never considered litigation in response to his rejection.

$ 400 M Project cast

The Golden Nugget handed Richmond $ 400 million plans in February. The casino company said that if selected by the city and approved by local voters in a ballot referendum in November, it would build a resort with 177 hotel rooms, a casino floor of 93, 000 square feet, a convention center, a 1, 500 - theater and six restaurants.

Golden Nugget owns and operates Golden Nugget casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Lake Charles, La., Biloxi, Ms. and Laughlin, Nv. The gaming and hospitality empire of billionaire Tilman Fertitta of Laundry privately owns the Golden Nugget casinos.

As for the three finalists, Richmond chose the newly formed Bally's Corporation, The Cordish Companies and Live! casino brand and Urban One. The latter is a Black-focused media conglomerate that has no history of running casinos.

However, Urban One has emerged as the favorite in the Richmond project. Unlike Bally's and Cordish, which faced local opposition from the communities in which they want to build, many organizations supported Urban One's plan to build a casino near the Philip Morris tobacco plant along Interstate 95.

Local criticism of Bally's plan was so strong that an evaluation panel last month formally rejected the bid. That leaves only Urban One and Cordish.

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