RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond residents have less than a month to decide if they want a casino in their city. Residents will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to developing ONE Casino + Resort on the city’s southside on Nov. 2.
If the Las Vegas-style casino is approved, $25.5 million will be given to the city upfront. 8News has learned that the money is currently deposited in an account until votes are certified. Once the investor has completed the financing, the city will get an additional $1 million.
From August until September city residents were able to weigh in by participating in an online survey. The results were released on Tuesday and showed most people want to see the $25.5 million poured into the southside community.
However, there is some opposition. Choosing to vote early, Senator Tim Kaine voted ‘no’ to bringing a casino to Richmond.
In a statement to 8News, Kaine’s office wrote “Senator Kaine voted on Monday, September 20. He voted against the casino proposal. He believes there are better ways to enhance economic development in Richmond.”
The presence of Urban One is in Richmond as Richmonders decide if Urban One’s project will be built in the 8th district. Residents are surrounded by ads that are posted on billboards, airing on the radio and television.
C.E.O Alfred Liggins has attended numerous community events to talk with residents, like the 2nd Street Festival this past weekend.
The black-owned media company knocked out its competitors and has garnered support from neighborhood associations, business owners, and southside council members like Reva Trammell and Mike Jones.
“It’s now time to elevate the southside and truly make this one city with this one project,” Jones told 8News earlier this year.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has also vocally supported ONE Casino + Resort.
“To provide increased funding for schools for affordable housing and for much need infrastructure upgrades,” Stoney said via Zoom.
Many city residents are echoing Mayor Stoney’s message in an online survey presented on Tuesday afternoon by Maritza Pechin, Deputy Director of Equitable Development.
The survey showed that people want to see $19 million of the city’s allotted $25.5 million go towards the 8th and 9th districts. Residents decided school improvements were their main priority followed by road and pedestrian safety and city beautification.
The results show the highest-ranked school project to be Reid Elementary School Community Center and playground, the top pedestrian project is Hull Street at Belt Boulevard, and the top road project is the intersection of Belt Boulevard and Broad Rock Boulevard.
Outside of Kaine’s opposition, there may be others. Richmond For All, an advocacy group, is against the casino project. They reported in July that volunteers canvassed the 8th district, knocking on 175 doors. The organization reported that 45% of residents were opposed to the project, with an additional 25% undecided. The group has more canvassing events scheduled to this month.
Casino projects in four other Virginia cities are already ahead of the game after winning large majorities in their local ballot referendums last fall. However, Richmond is proving to be a unique casino race. The vote could be tighter than some expect, but ultimately city residents will have the final say.
If the casino is approved on Nov. 2, Mayor Stoney will use the information collected from the online survey to present a budget to Richmond City Council. Council members will then vote to approve or amend the Mayor’s proposal.