With casino vote looming, Richmonders split on decision

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Posted at 5:02 PM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 18:15:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmonders have seen the billboards and the ads and on Tuesday, voters have the final say on a possible casino in Richmond.

“Richmonders get the chance to vote whether or not they want a resort casino entertainment complex built in South Richmond," said CEO of Urban One, Alfred Liggins.

He wants Richmonders to vote "yes" on a proposal to build a multi-million dollar entertainment and gaming destination on Walmsley Boulevard.

“There's a 250 room luxury hotel, we're building a 15,000 square foot film and television soundstage,” Liggins said.

Liggins touts a huge economic boost for the river city, promising 4,500 jobs, including 3,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs.

“The benefits will start immediately," Liggins said. "If this vote goes through first and foremost, the city will get $25.5 million dollars in upfront payment."

The casino's potential benefits resonate with familiar faces across Richmond, including Todd "Parney" Parnell. The COO of the Richmond Flying Squirrels personally supports bringing the casino to RVA.

“I think we have to start saying yes," Parney said. “I think that the owners have committed to the community and I think they have committed to doing things 12 months a year, much like we did, as the Squirrels when we came to town.”

Some people who live on the Southside, including a man who CBS6 spoke with on Thursday, hope to apply to jobs that could be created by the project.

“So you don’t have to go to Chesterfield, Henrico, different areas like that just to find a job," he said.

However, not everyone wants to roll the dice, including Tavarris Spinks.

“Casinos, in general, are predatory," Spinks said.

He's a lifelong Richmonder with generations of roots in the city. Spinks ran for Richmond City Council in the 2nd District in 2020 and was defeated.

“Their business model is to squeeze money out of their patrons," Spinks said. "Secondly, the placement of casinos, within a 10-mile radius, you get significant increases in problem gambling.”

Spinks called that a 'societal cost' and said the Black community, which makes up a big portion of the Southside, will take a loss if the proposal goes through.

“In order for a casino to make money, they need people to lose," Spinks said. "And I think that Richmond will lose in this proposition.”

Spinks believes Richmonders are being fed misleading information from the marketing campaign and said city leaders are hyper-focusing on this one proposal rather than looking at other options to improve the Southside.

If a majority votes like Spinks and rejects the casino, Liggins said it's still not going anywhere.

“There will be one for Central Virginia. Unfortunately, it won't go in the city if it doesn't pass, but it probably will go into another jurisdiction," Liggins said.

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