Richmond casino referendum gets court’s OK for ballot
City residents to vote on ONE Casino + Resort in November
The Richmond Circuit Court approved the Richmond City Council’s petition Tuesday to place a referendum on the November ballot for city voters to weigh in on the Urban One Inc.-backed ONE Casino + Resort project.
It’s the next step in a process that started early this year with the city’s request for proposals for a casino resort. In June, City Council voted 8-1 to request that the Richmond Circuit Court add a referendum on the local ballot. If passed by voters, the proposed $562.5 million ONE Casino would be approved to start construction on the city’s South Side near Interstate 95, on 100 acres owned by Altria Group Inc. It would be the only casino under Black ownership in the country. Urban One, which owns and operates 55 radio stations and the TV One cable network, has partnered with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, owner of Colonial Downs Group and the Rosie’s Gaming Emporium franchise. It also is a minority investor in the MGM National Harbor hotel and casino in Maryland.
The Richmond project includes a sportsbook, 250 hotel rooms, a 3,000-seat theater, 100,000 square feet of gaming space, and 12 bars and restaurants, and it was chosen from among six proposals received in January. A city-appointed advisory panel recommended Urban One’s proposal, sending it to City Council in May.
“We thank the court for its review and order to place on the November ballot a referendum on the … project,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said in a statement Tuesday. “This economic development project will bring 1,300 well-paying jobs and millions in much-needed revenue to our city while continuing the revitalization of South Richmond. And as we said from the beginning, the people will have the final say.”
Urban One said it would pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour, as well as a $25 million upfront payment to the city and have a $5.7 billion economic impact over the casino’s first 10 years.
Richmond is the last of five Virginia cities voting on whether to allow a commercial casino, after the Virginia General Assembly voted in 2020 to allow five economically challenged cities across Virginia to have one casino per locality if approved by local voters. Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth all passed casino referendums last November by large margins, and their projects are expected to be finished within the next two years.