Norfolk nixes plan for Indian nation in city limits, instead asks Pamunkey tribe to open commercial casino

Norfolk
Proposed Casino Norfolk_1545239505081.jpg.jpg

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander has announced a major change in the city’s path to develop a casino — they are no longer to looking to have the Pamunkey Indian Tribe establish a sovereign nation within its limits.

Instead, the Pamunkey Indian Nation would follow the same process that Portsmouth is following in its quest to bring gaming to Hampton Roads — one being driven by the state.

The mayor made the announcement at at a public hearing concerning the project Monday, according to Councilman Tommy Smigiel.

“After the JLARC study and realizing that the scope of the project will change the commercial route [it] makes more sense for both the Pamunkey Tribe and the City of Norfolk,” Smigiel wrote on his Facebook page Monday night.

The Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) study Smigiel was referring to found that Norfolk and Portsmouth would likely have to scale back their original casino proposals because of market competition.

The Pamunkey Tribe’s original design was billed to be as much as $700 million, but is now expected to be around $200 million, Alexander said. The mayor said to now expect about 1,000 jobs, instead of 3,500.

As it stands, casino gaming is currently illegal in the commonwealth. The bill to change that, sponsored by Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, would allow only the cities of Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Richmond to host casino gaming if the bill passes and is subsequently approved by voters in each individual city.

Ironically, the public hearing was being held in the first place because petitioners were successful in forcing City Council to vote on an ordinance to repeal their September land sale agreement for the casino site.

Citizens for an Informed Norfolk say they were against the way council went about the deal.

With the mayor’s announcement, the agreement reached in September will have to be amended. Norfolk would no longer have a guarantee of a 4-percent cut of all gambling revenues coming back to the city.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

WAVY Twitter Widget

***Don’t Miss Module Removal CSS***

WAVY Facebook