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Casino referendum won't be on Richmond ballots in November

Posted at 3:41 PM, Aug 17, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond voters will not be weighing in again this fall on whether to approve a casino in the city.

At the request of city officials, a Richmond Circuit Court judge has signed an order to remove the casino referendum question from local ballots in this year’s election, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday. The move is the latest turn in a long-running debate over the nearly $600 million proposed project.

In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly approved legislation to allow developers to build large casino resorts in Norfolk, Bristol, Portsmouth, Danville and Richmond in what supporters billed as a way to boost struggling economies.

Potential operators had to first clear a voter referendum. That happened in every city but Richmond, which rejected the initiative last year. Richmond officials mounted an effort to bring the issue back a second time, but officials in nearby Petersburg also began a push to change the gambling laws to let their city hold a referendum instead.

Richmond's effort ran into resistance at the General Assembly, which in June passed a state budget that included a provision that said the capital city could not hold another casino referendum until 2023. The budget language also said a study on the potential impact of a casino in nearby Petersburg must be completed first.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney's administration has said the city is ready to move forward with another push for the project in 2023.

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