UPDATED: Golden Nugget, Wind Creek enter proposals to build Richmond casino
Projects at $541M and $400M among six contenders
Updated 3 p.m., Feb. 24
Joining at least four other groups competing to be chosen as Richmond’s choice for a casino operator, bids from two other casino companies were made public Wednesday.
Houston-based Golden Nugget Hotels & Casinos has proposed a $400 million casino project about six miles from downtown, and Wind Creek Hospitality, affiliated with an Alabama Indian tribe, has submitted a proposal for a $541 million project in the city’s South Side.
Golden Nugget proposes a 950,000-square-foot facility, according to a news release. It would include a 177-room hotel with 37 suites, a 93,000-square-foot casino floor, a 16,000-square-foot event space, a 1,500-seat concert venue and at least six restaurants, including Morton’s The Steakhouse, and four retail outlets. A pool complex would include a lazy river and cabanas. The company estimates that 1,200 jobs would be created, and completion would take about three years after approval.
The precise location was not identified in the news release. In a statement, Lorenzo Creighton, who would serve as an executive at the casino if selected, said, “The RFP did not require a definitive site for submittal. We are highly confident and have a fantastic preferred location identified and are in negotiations with a couple of different groups that we prefer not to disclose specifics at this time. In addition, we are flexible and prepared to evaluate sites owned by the city of Richmond Redevelopment Authority in an effort to enhance and optimize economic development opportunities for the city of Richmond.”
Wind Creek’s bid would include 100,000 square feet of gaming space, 2,500 slot machines and 120 table games, as well as more than 500 hotel rooms in two towers. The project also would include a 67,000-square-foot entertainment center, a spa, indoor pool, fitness center and seven food and beverage locations. The casino would be on two parcels on Ingram Avenue near the Oak Grove and Manchester neighborhoods in the city’s South Side, plots of 27.8 acres and 18.8 acres owned by the Richmond-based City Central LLC entity with tobacco warehouses.
The company manages seven casino resorts and a gaming website for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, as well as racetracks in Alabama and Florida. It’s the second Indian tribe-affiliated proposal for Richmond; Virginia’s Pamunkey Indian Tribe also has put forward a bid to build what would be its second casino in the state.
If selected and approved by city voters, Golden Nugget says it would would provide several one-time charitable donations, including $60 million to Richmond Public Schools, $10 million to the Richmond Affordable Housing Trust Fund, $1 million to Virginia Union University and $30,000 to the Metropolitan Business League, a Richmond-based organization that assists local minority-owned companies.
Golden Nugget, which owns five casinos across the country, would contribute 5% of equity ownership in the casino between two Minority Business Enterprise-certified entities in Richmond partly owned by Virginians Dennis Cotto and Richard Williams, the former Virginia Lottery director. Williams’ Virginia Sports & Technology Group was created to support inclusion of minority groups in jobs and profit-sharing, including an equity stake of at least $180,000 a year. Cotto’s Bet on Gaming Holdings LLC was created for minority communities in Virginia to be included in the process of real estate development and procurement, and the entity will receive a profit share of at least $120,000 a year once the casino opens.
Golden Nugget is owned by Tilman J. Fertitta, a Texas businessman who also owns the Houston Rockets NBA team and Landry’s Inc., a multibrand dining, hospitality, entertainment and gaming corporation based in Houston.
Richmond is considering at least six casino proposals, including projects from the Virginia-based Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Bally’s Corp., Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. and a partnership between Colonial Downs and Maryland-based media company Urban One Inc.
The city will announce all the competing casino proposals received by the Monday deadline once it has confirmed they meet submission criteria. A nine-member evaluation panel named by Mayor Levar Stoney will review the casino proposals over the following days, assisted by consulting firm Convergence Strategy Group. Ultimately, Richmond City Council, the Virginia Lottery and local voters, who will have the opportunity to weigh in during a November referendum, must approve the project for it to move forward.