Operators will soon be able to submit their proposals for a potential casino project in Richmond. Earlier this year, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam approved a bill for sports betting and casino construction in Richmond, Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth, subject to voter approval in each locality.
Employment opportunities and economic growth are the main benefits
As the project develops Richmond Resort Casino , Mayor Levar Stoney is making an effort to continue the initiative and bring it to a successful conclusion, contrary to the plan the Navy Hill redevelopment worth $1.5 billion.
In early 2020 Richmond City Council voted to stop the plan due to, among other things, the potential financial risk to the city and the lack of transparency by the project's developers. Stoney was a strong supporter of the Navy Hill project and believed it would boost the economy and create new job opportunities in the city. The plan included the creation of a brand new coliseum, retail space, affordable housing and space for VCU Health .
In an interview with Richmond Times-Dispatch on Thursday, Stoney commented on the Navy Hill project:
"For me, it's about growth - not just for the city, but as an administration and government. I think we need to learn from our last opportunity."
According to the timeline for the Richmond Resort Casino project , the competition process will begin at end of December when interested parties can submit their proposals and all related documents to the City for consideration. This phase will last until end of February 2021 . Operator and location selection will begin in summer after the city has considered all proposals and will name an operator, also taking into account community opinion. The final decision will be made by the voters of the City of Richmond, who will cast their vote in referendum put to the vote.
For projects that can spur economic development in the city, the key to success is community involvement, according to the Richmond mayor. Economic development equals economic justice, and Stoney wants to achieve that for all citizens.
Neighbors could object to building a casino in close proximity
Earlier this month, Virginia's capital city launched a survey to get residents' opinions on the potential opening of a casino at the resort. According to a preliminary assessment of the survey results, respondents cited jobs that provide sufficient wages and tax revenue for schools, housing developments and public infrastructure improvements as direct benefits of such a project. Richmond officials will only be able to estimate the amount of local tax revenue the project could generate once they have information from the solicited proposals.
The main obstacle is how potential neighbors would feel about having a casino nearby. Louise McQueen i Barbara Starkey-Goode , officers of the respective neighborhood associations, said the survey contained questions related only to the possible benefits of the project and did not address people's general opinion about opening a casino in the city. This could easily be resolved if commercial areas with fewer residential properties are considered as a potential site.