In a significant move on Monday evening, June 12, the Richmond City Council displayed a robust endorsement for the revival of the ONE Casino+Resort, with an overwhelming 8-1 vote in favor. This vote sets the stage for a potential second referendum this coming November, bringing the colossal $562.5 million ONE Casino+Resort project back into consideration for the city of Richmond.
ONE Casino+Resort Proposal
On the evening of Monday, June 12, the Richmond City Council made a significant decision, voting 8-1 in favor of reviving the ONE Casino+Resort project. This endorsement sets the stage for a second referendum this coming November, offering the $562.5 million ONE Casino+Resort project another chance in the city of Richmond.
Strategic Collaboration and Community Agreements
The council strategically selected RVA Entertainment Holdings LLC, a joint venture between Urban One Inc. and Churchill Downs Inc., as the preferred operator for the proposed casino. Furthermore, the council members enacted a community host agreement and a community support agreement, promoting beneficial cooperation between the city of Richmond, RVA Entertainment Holdings, and Richmond VA Management LLC, the proposed casino operator.
In a strategic collaboration, the council identified RVA Entertainment Holdings LLC, an alliance of Urban One Inc. and Churchill Downs Inc., as the designated operator for the proposed casino project.
Serving the community’s interests, the council members proceeded to ratify both a community host agreement and a community support agreement. These arrangements pave the way for a beneficial partnership between the city of Richmond, RVA Entertainment Holdings, and Richmond VA Management LLC, the proposed casino operator.
One remarkable element of the second agreement stipulates that the developer will provide a substantial $25.5 million payment to the city, contingent upon the referendum’s success this year. Furthermore, the city will receive a $1 million bonus payment from the developer upon the finalization of the resort casino’s financing.
However, it’s worth remembering the Richmond voters’ prior dismissal of the proposed ONE Casino+Resort in 2021, standing out from Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth, which validated casinos in their localities in 2020. The margin was a relatively close 1,200 votes.
A series of events, including an unsuccessful attempt by Petersburg officials to initiate a casino referendum in their city, have facilitated a reconsideration of the ONE Casino+Resort in Richmond this coming fall.
The envisioned ONE Casino+Resort retains most of its previous features. A notable addition is the involvement of Churchill Downs, who acquired Peninsula Pacific Entertainment LLC for a staggering $2.75 billion. Peninsula Pacific Entertainment was a key player in the 2021 proposal, in partnership with the Maryland-based media company Urban One.
Richmond’s Economic Development Director, Leonard Sledge, offers an enticing picture of the potential casino resort. Envisioned on a 97-acre site, the resort would include a 250-room hotel, and state-of-the-art radio, TV, and film production studios. The proposed site is currently owned by Altria Group Inc., conveniently located near Interstate 95.
As far as employment goes, the city could expect the casino to generate an estimated 1,300 jobs, translating to a projected $30 million in local tax revenue per annum. This projection is bolstered by Sledge’s reference to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Bristol and the Rivers Casino in Portsmouth, which have already begun to deliver considerable tax revenue since their openings.
Despite the failed 2021 referendum, key players are hopeful for the upcoming vote. Urban One Inc. CEO Alfred Liggins III and Churchill Downs’ chief counsel, Joseph Quinn, are amongst the project’s supporters. Yet, Katherine Jordan, a city council member, has remained steadfast in her opposition.
Support for the project doesn’t only come from high-profile names. Local union members voiced their support during the public hearing segment of the meeting, pushing for the promise of more jobs. The opposition has been relatively muted, with one detractor highlighting the results of the previous 2021 vote.
Following the council’s affirmative vote on Monday, the next step will be petitioning the Richmond Circuit Court to have the referendum included on the November ballot. As the city of Richmond looks to the future, the potential of the ONE Casino+Resort looms large. Only time will tell if the citizens of Richmond are ready to roll the dice.