Caesars runs the table in Danville
After competing with several other major players, Caesars Entertainment Corp. is planning a $400 million casino in Danville’s Schoolfield neighborhood.
In early June, City Council approved the Las Vegas-based company as its preferred casino operator, and the Virginia Lottery is expected to rule on the case by mid-July. The next step toward approval is a local referendum in November.
“Caesars is pleased to emerge from a highly competitive process as the unanimous choice by the Danville City Council to build and operate a first-class casino resort in the city,” Caesars CEO Tony Rodio said in a statement.
Caesars has proposed a $400 million resort with 500 hotel rooms, a 35,000-square-foot conference center, a 2,500-seat theater, 2,000 slot machines, 75 table games, 16 poker tables, a sportsbook and multiple restaurants and bars. The project would create 1,300 permanent jobs, according to the city, as well as 900 construction jobs.
The casino is expected to be finished in 2023, and officials estimate it will generate more than $30 million in annual revenue from gaming taxes and supplemental payments to the city, as well as $4 million in real estate, meals, sales and hotel taxes.
The state has seen a flurry of gaming activity since the General Assembly passed legislation allowing five economically challenged cities to host one commercial casino each, as long as investors put in at least $300 million and local voters pass referendums. Caesars joins Hard Rock Casino, which is developing a project in Bristol; Virginia’s Pamunkey Indian Tribe, with projects planned in Norfolk and Richmond; and Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming, which has proposed a project in Portsmouth.
Schoolfield is the former village where Dan River Mill textile workers lived, and it has been a target for redevelopment efforts similar to those in downtown Danville, which has seen historic industrial buildings transformed into residential and retail spaces.
“Ideally, both the Schoolfield and White Mill sites will be redeveloped as a result of this project,” interim Director of Economic Development Corrie Bobe says. “As a Danville native, I know how important the redevelopment of the White Mill is to our collective sense of pride.”
Schoolfield is a “more challenging” development project than the mill, she says. “It makes sense to let the private sector take on the total cost of that site while using some of the additional revenue to encourage private development of the White Mill.”