Waterside operator helping to fund opposition to Norfolk casino

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The operator of the Waterside District is helping to fund and support the group opposing Norfolk’s plans for a resort casino.

On Tuesday night, a post on Vote NO Norfolk Casino’s Facebook page revealed that the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies have a long-term retainer agreement with Red Banyan — the Washington D.C.-based public relations company that has been assisting those hoping to defeat the upcoming casino referendum.

The post went onto say that as of Sept. 30, Banyan has provided $2,880 in “in-kind” services to the Informed Norfolk referendum committee. Mainly they’ve contacted media and conducted research.

Three restaurants and bars owned by Cordish and operating in Waterside have contributed financially, according to the post. Guy Fieri’s Smokehouse, PBR Norfolk and Blue Moon Taphouse.

“These establishments provide much-needed jobs and tax revenue and have been a big part of a thriving and vibrant downtown,” the post said. “We appreciate their support!”

Cordish Companies has been threatening to sue the city for the better part of a year over the deal struck with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to build a casino next to Harbor Park.

When Cordish signed an agreement with Norfolk to redevelop the Waterside District, it included language that would allow the company to expand the complex into a casino if gambling ever became legal in the state.

Cordish owns and operates three other casinos, including Live! Casino & Hotel in Maryland. They are currently developing two more in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

While it may turn heads to see a group opposing a casino supported by other casino operators, members of the Vote NO Norfolk Casino group have maintained all along they’re not exactly “anti-casino,” but “pro-information and pro-transparency.”


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