Richmond casino goes bust: 'A $565 million opportunity lost'

Posted at 1:03 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 13:31:29-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The CEO of One Casino and Resort said he was disappointed Richmond voters rejected plans to build a casino along Walmsley Boulevard in South Richmond.

"For the last two years, we have worked so hard to build a large and inclusive tent with our ONE Casino + Resort project.  We had a lot of loyal supporters who worked tirelessly on behalf of this project and for whom we will be eternally grateful," Alfred Liggins wrote in an email following the defeat at the ballot box. "We ran a robust campaign and strongly believe this is a huge missed opportunity for Richmond residents to have a tourist attraction that would have provided the financial resources to improve schools and roads as well as enrich the lives of its citizens. Urban One has been a part of the fabric of Richmond for the last twenty-two years, and we will continue our tradition of serving the community."

Liggins added his company may now work to build its casino in a city or county near Richmond. That process would first need to go through the Virginia General Assembly.

Unofficial results showed 51-percent of Richmond voters rejected the ONE Casino and Resort proposal.

Most voters in precincts near the proposed Southside location supported the casino plan, while most voters north of the river did not.

Richmond City Councilman Mike Jones, who represents parts of Southside Richmond, was disheartened by the vote.

"I'm really concerned with the fact that every neighborhood every precinct in the First, the Second, the Third District, they can walk their streets, they have the infrastructure, we don't have those things," Jones said. "And so, you know, I am for the Democratic process. That's what I voted for on council to send it to the referendum and let the citizens of Richmond decide. But it's interesting to see a breakdown along racial and neighborhood lines."

"Richmond For All," an organization against the proposed casino, took to social Wednesday morning and called the casino rejection a "win for Richmond."

“I am so proud of our organization and our city. We proved that an organized grassroots can defeat moneyed interests. We believe in knocking on doors and talking to our neighbors. That’s what made the difference," Quinton Robbins, Richmond For All’s Political Director & #CommunitiesNotCasinos Team Lead, said.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, a vocal supporter of the casino project, said he respected the will of the voters.

“While I believe this was a $565 million opportunity lost to create well-paying jobs, expand opportunity, keep taxes low and increase revenue to meet the needs of our growing city, I am proud of the transparent and public process we went through to listen to our residents and put this opportunity before our voters," Stoney said. "Rest assured, this administration will not be deterred from its ongoing mission to bring other economic development opportunities to our city that will benefit the lives of all who live here.”

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