RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmonders will not be voting on a casino this year after Urban One decided to remove it from the November ballot. This comes just hours after a letter was sent to state leaders saying the vote would be illegal.
Since Richmond's decision to vote down bringing One Casino and Resort to the city last November, efforts to get the plan back on the ballot have been in full swing.
Because votes to build the casino were so close, a judge granted permission to hold a second vote.
Hoping to have a second chance at the project, city officials wanted to include it on the 2022 ballot.
"We are bringing economic opportunity and not asking anything in return other than the improvement of the quality of life for the citizens for this city," Kathy Hughes said.
However, because of state budget laws, the earliest the decision can be made again without changing laws or going back to court is 2023.
"Unfortunately, the state budget language had clauses in it that sought to block that referendum and delay it until 2023," Alfred Liggins, Urban One's CEO, said.
Adamant about Richmond following state laws, Senator Joe Morrissey and Delegate Kim Taylor sent a letter to Governor Glenn Youngkin, informing him that Richmond City officials wanted One Casino back on the ballot this fall despite it being illegal.
The following is the full statement sent by Morrissey and Taylor to Youngkin:
Dear Governor Youngkin,
We hope this letter finds you, your staff, and your family healthy and well. We are writing to you today to inform you of the potentially illegal actions of the City of Richmond. It has come to our attention that Richmond is considering placing a referendum on the November, 2022, ballot that would ask city voters whether or not to approve of a casino in Richmond.
As you know, the 2022 Biennium Budget that was passed by the General Assembly and signed by you explicitly prevents Richmond from holding another referendum on a casino until November, 2023.
Although a member of our staff did contact the Richmond Registrar, Mr. Keith Balmer, for clarification, we were not provided a definitive answer. Specifically, Mr. Balmer informed us that "the City of Richmond has not told me whether or not to include the casino referendum on the ballot this year". We find this answer unacceptable and shows Richmond's intent to possibly ignore the law.
We are respectfully requesting that you direct the Attorney General's Office to utilize its legal authority to prevent Richmond from placing the above mentioned referendum on the November, 2022, ballot.
The city then released the following statement:
The City of Richmond, at the request of our longstanding community partner, Urban One, is preparing to file a petition to remove the casino referendum from the November 2022 ballot.
Understanding Urban One's reasoning, the city stands ready to move the proposed One Casino + Resort forward in 2023.
It's a sentiment that Hughes and her son Liggins echoed at Thursday night's 8th District meeting.
"Urban One has elected to ask our partners, the city of Richmond, to request that the court unwind the court order and actually focus on the referendum for 2023," Liggins said.
Using part of her district meeting to share this decision with the community, councilwoman Reva Trammel hopes the extended time will lead to a different decision at the polls.
"It would be a help to everybody, the Red Roof Inn, the Hampton Inn, if we had the One Casino, they would be full, that area would be booming," Trammel said.