It’s official: Casino proposal axed by Richmond voters

Urban One’s proposed casino and resort was to rise on Philip Morris-owned land just off Interstate 95. ((Image courtesy of Urban One))

Updated (10:20 a.m.): 

Richmond voters have rejected the plan for a casino development on the city’s Southside.

The referendum on Urban One’s $565 million casino and resort complex failed in Tuesday’s elections, with 51.4 percent of the electorate voting against it.

Mayor Levar Stoney, who had thrown his support behind the casino, issued a statement Wednesday morning announcing the failure of the referendum. The state’s Department of Elections has yet to certify the result.

“From the beginning, we said the people would decide. They have spoken, and we must respect their decision,” Stoney said in a prepared statement.  “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, whose administration also backed the failed Navy Hill proposal last year, said his office isn’t finished pitching big ideas. The administration has previously said it expects to formally begin fielding proposals later this year for the redevelopment of more than 60 acres along Arthur Ashe Boulevard, including the site of The Diamond.

“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,” Stoney said.

The result makes Richmond the only locality in the state to reject a casino via referendum. Last November, referendums for casinos in Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville and Bristol all received an average of 68 percent of the vote and passed easily.

The Southside casino was proposed for 2001 Walmsley Blvd. by Maryland-based media giant Urban One, along with Colonial Downs and Rosie’s Gaming Emporium owner Peninsula Pacific Entertainment. The duo was seeking to build a 300,000-square-foot complex on land they planned to purchase from Philip Morris.

Last month, Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins said that in the event of the referendum failing in Richmond, he thinks the state government would move to have the matter revisited in one of the surrounding counties.

Liggins expressed his disappointment about the result in a statement Wednesday, describing the result as a missed opportunity for Richmond.

“While extremely disappointed, our entire Urban One family, my mother and business partner Cathy Hughes, and I accept the will of city of Richmond residents,” Liggins said.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
60 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Jones
Jim Jones
26 days ago

Looks like a year setback, Location, Location, Location! The Scotts addition site would have passed easily as it is already a “go to zone”

Lee Gaskins
Lee Gaskins
26 days ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

Nope. Have you seen how many NO CASINO signs are over there?

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
26 days ago
Reply to  Lee Gaskins

I guess not🤣

Ashley
Ashley
26 days ago
Reply to  Lee Gaskins

If you look at the breakdown of voters, it seemed south of the river voted “yes” and north of the river voted “no.” I live in Northside and can attest at how passionately my neighbors felt against the casino.

C. Jay Robbins IV PC
C. Jay Robbins IV PC
26 days ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

Scott’s Addition is Exhibit 1 in the case against this casino project. There are dozens of small businesses, breweries, restaurants, bars, apartment projects, specialty grocery stores, you name it. All those businesses are spending and risking their own money. BTW, that money stays here. The casino money is going to be exported to God knows where, as we all know.

Hardywood is the best single thing to happen to downtown Richmond in years. The owners did not shake the begging bowl at the taxpayers.

Randy Hawkins
Randy Hawkins
7 days ago

Easy on the Hardywood taxpayer stuff. They took government grant money to build the West Creek facility, so they’re not beneath taking taxpayer money.

Deon Hamner
Deon Hamner
26 days ago

Boy Richmond can’t fall off a boat and hit water in the ocean. Terrible setback for the city. That area is in desperate need of upgrading and redevelopment.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
26 days ago
Reply to  Deon Hamner

“That area is in desperate need of upgrading and redevelopment.”

Yes it is, but now the casino can take over the old navy Hill zone.

Carol Whitney
Carol Whitney
26 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Casinos make money off the backs of those who are least able to afford it. I saw that firsthand when I lived in New England; there were no glamorous, wealthy people at most of the slot machines or tables at either Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods. On Friday evenings poor working stiffs would come stumbling in with their paychecks which most likely were gambled away without their families seeing a penny.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
26 days ago
Reply to  Carol Whitney

Having grown up in that area of CT, I can now see a huge improvements now compared to the economy prior to Foxwood’s and Mohegan Sun. That region used to be completely neglected. A massive portion of traffic frequenting those casinos are from out-of-state, granted with the geography that is not a huge achievement.

Alan Wilson
Alan Wilson
25 days ago
Reply to  Justin Fritch

Justin, I grew up in Uncasville and can tell you with certainty that the addition of Mohegan Sun has done virtually nothing to improve that town. A few smaller hotels popped up on Rte 32 and a New York conglomerate bought out 100% of the houses on Holly Hill to use as hot-racks for casino workers bused in from the Tri-State area. Other than that bit of economic development, the town of Montville gets absolutely $0 in tax revenues and the casino is it’s own entity segregated from the rest of the town. Now a big part of that dynamic… Read more »

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
25 days ago
Reply to  Alan Wilson

Oh, I agree that this would have done little to spur growth in that area of the Richmond, especially being sandwiched between industrial properties and only really having connectivity to I-95. Any new hotels or related development would likely have gone on the Chesterfield side. I am from up the I-395 corridor to you and going back home it amazes me all of the developments that now exist that used to require a drive to Manchester, Waterford, or Webster. The “Quiet Corner” seems to have benefited and perhaps the Massachusetts traffic has helped. With MA opening several casinos I do… Read more »

Vickie Booker
Vickie Booker
26 days ago
Reply to  Carol Whitney

I think the “High rollers” prefer Vegas

Vickie Booker
Vickie Booker
26 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

I don’t think so…..

Steve Fox
Steve Fox
26 days ago
Reply to  Deon Hamner

It’s the worst of all the locations. No one wants to go down there. Its a total dump. Put it closer to the city if you want it to succeed.

Michael Dodson
Michael Dodson
26 days ago

Mayor Stoney issued a statement; even he knows it is OVER. They will NOT select another location in the City limits. It will be interesting to see if they push the GA and get voter approval for one in the surrounding Counties.

Roger Turner
Roger Turner
26 days ago
Reply to  Michael Dodson

Anywhere you put it people are going to protest so I am not sure it’s going to pass anywhere in Richmond. Provided it does get built to me it would make the most sense at the new Coliseum “Green City” Development. Shared parking and entertainment options, easy access to both I95 and I295 (with the new road improvements being discussed). It’s not “shoe horned” into a site too small and all the infrastructure improvement required (Power, Water, Sewer, etc) are all going to have to be upgraded on that site anyhow. Additionally it’s 20 minutes closer to Northern VA populations… Read more »

Wick Logan
Wick Logan
26 days ago
Reply to  Roger Turner

Northern VA and VA Beach? Two casinos have been approved in the beach area and there is a huge casino right off I-95 at National Harbor in the DC area. Why would anyone drive an extra 2 hours to a Richmond casino? It was never going to do anything but recycle local dollars. No benefit at all to the economy

Vickie Booker
Vickie Booker
26 days ago
Reply to  Roger Turner

Aren’t they building one in Norfolk, Portsmouth and there is one going up in Danville…..

Matt Dolan
Matt Dolan
26 days ago

No surprise here. When have the residents of Richmond ever gone with a “Yes” to anything representing change? In my nearly 25 years living here I’ve never witnessed it. Meanwhile our downtown lags behind similar sized competitors, potential opportunities go by the wayside and empty lots or debilitated buildings in central, prime locations remain.

The fear of change plays a larger role in Richmond than other places as we have seen time and time again; am always fascinated by why that is.

Phil Miller
Phil Miller
26 days ago
Reply to  Matt Dolan

I have been ambivalent about other projects, but the casino is a big no. Is it fear of change that led people to oppose? Or was it concern for their neighbors?

Matt Dolan
Matt Dolan
25 days ago
Reply to  Phil Miller

I’d be quite surprised if concern for neighbors was an honest driver for those who oppose. That sounds good on paper or an interview though this feels like more of the same NIMBY approach we see in this town over and over again with fear at the forefront. Maybe in the end this No will be best for all but the neighbors who should have had the biggest voice and vote are those who live near the proposed site and according to media reports they were overwhelmingly supportive. So in the end the people who overwhelmingly wanted this project in… Read more »

Jennifer Gibb
Jennifer Gibb
25 days ago
Reply to  Matt Dolan

The residents of Richmond voted “Yes” for the state lottery and off-track betting parlors. Where did all that profit go? Why are our schools still as lousy as ever?.

kay christensen
kay christensen
25 days ago
Reply to  Jennifer Gibb

Look to leadership…you’ll find the answer. The schools can’t complain they are underfunded- that is simply not the truth. Charter schools are badly needed in Virginia.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
25 days ago

The schools are MASSIVELY underfunded.
Virginia has the worst teacher pay in the country.
Virginia, D.C. ranked as worst two places for teacher payFacts matter.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
25 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Just because the teacher pay is low does not mean the organizations are underfunded. RPS is notoriously bad with handling funds.

kay christensen
kay christensen
22 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Ed-seriously….Richmond pays one of the highest, if not the highest cost per pupil in the commonwealth. The results are abysmal. How much more are you willing to pay to achieve an acceptable literacy rate at graduation? Richmond has a problem…the answer is not throwing more money at it.

kay christensen
kay christensen
25 days ago
Reply to  Matt Dolan

Poor leadership in Richmond is the reason….past actions have seeded deep mistrust in the process of getting big things done. Until we have a serious mayor and city council- the city will continue to flounder.

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
26 days ago

I started out in favor, but got really irritated by the aggressive marketing campaign. I also didn’t care for the little game where they pretended to considering various locations. It was obvious that Urban One and this location were a done deal from the beginning.

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
26 days ago

Their plan was a failure from inception. Creating a campaign around job creation during a labor shortage was extremely short sighted. Not offering tax abatements to those who live in the area, yet we offered tax abatements to all the gentrfiers in Church Hill, was short sighted. The people of Richmond reject most of what Stoney has brought us. Give us a Mayor who cares about the City and doesn’t just see it as a stepping stone in their political career, maybe then we’ll field developments that work for the people.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
26 days ago
Reply to  Ashley Smith

Navy Hill, no, Casino no, …Stoney is ) for two

Jim Jones
Jim Jones
26 days ago
Reply to  Ashley Smith

Stoney’s political career took a major hit last night…….

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

As it should.

Phil Miller
Phil Miller
26 days ago

What a win! Hopefully the people will see this positive result and go further: remove permission from other casinos and the state lottery.

Derek Woolwine
Derek Woolwine
26 days ago

I will wait for the announcement it will be build in Henrico or Chesterfield, too much money involved for this not to be built somewhere. Richmond citizens can’t get out of their own way.

John Ennis
John Ennis
26 days ago
Reply to  Derek Woolwine

Lots of legislative work to even get it considered. The bill that authorized it for Richmond limited the possibility to CITIES that met certain criteria. I believe the cities that had referendums were the only cities in VA that met those criteria. To open up Henrico or Chesterfield would probably open up the entire state and I doubt the General Assembly would do that.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
25 days ago
Reply to  Derek Woolwine

This was supposedly to “help” “Underprivledged” cities, such as Danville.

Not sure what out of town folks will drive to Danville….

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
25 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Danville is on the North Carolina state border, a state lacking casinos. Same idea with the casino in Bristol.

Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
25 days ago
Reply to  Derek Woolwine

I would bet Petersburg gets the next shot at it, if anyone.

Sam Wood
Sam Wood
26 days ago

“said his office isn’t finished pitching big ideas”

Here’s an idea – solicit actual Companies that manufacture actual products and employ people in actual jobs paying actual wages. Give that a try Stoney!

Marvin Crouch
Marvin Crouch
26 days ago

deleted

Last edited 26 days ago by Marvin Crouch
Daniel Cooper
Daniel Cooper
26 days ago

With the Richmond city casino referendum going down, the public has spoken about how they felt about that fixed casino operator selection process. Native Americans got screwed. Stoney has put the city another 20 years behind.

Last edited 26 days ago by Daniel Cooper
C. Jay Robbins IV PC
C. Jay Robbins IV PC
26 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Cooper

If we are 20 years behind becoming another Atlantic City, excellent news!

Jon Parker
Jon Parker
26 days ago

What a shock, the NIMBYs have taken over. Rejecting every proposal for the past several years, it’s appalling. The city is nothing more than apartments buildings at this point. The diamond is in shambles, the coliseum project is gone, what is there. Brewery’s in scott’s addition lol

C. Jay Robbins IV PC
C. Jay Robbins IV PC
26 days ago

I do not understand why city officials are so enamored of these gigantic Stalinist style redevelopment projects. Improve infrastructure, then let the market figure out how the property ought to be used. If the casino was such a great idea, why did it need public money to make money? If the casino was such a great idea, why wouldn’t private financing (lending and equity) come up with the money to build the project?

“Well-paying jobs”, Mayor Stoney? I see minorities serving overpriced drinks to rich white people. Please let’s try again.

Hunter Wilson
Hunter Wilson
25 days ago

This WAS the privately financed project you describe. There was no public money involved, the public referendum process was imposed by the state as part of the process – it had nothing to do with allocating public dollars.

Jo White
Jo White
26 days ago

Move the plan to Henrico!

William Muse
William Muse
26 days ago

Does this mean I’ll finally stop getting all this useless mail every other day?

Eunice Toombs
Eunice Toombs
26 days ago

I’ve live in Richmond all my life if another Color was building this Casino it would have gone through. See this State hasn’t change and they are not going to let a all a Black Casino come here. Wake Up smell coffee. Maybe if it was still blue its red now. A Black Man is not allowed to own or control a business like that in this state in western state but not southern.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
25 days ago
Reply to  Eunice Toombs

Which of course explains all the “White” and “Yellow” -owned casinos here…

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
25 days ago
Reply to  Shawn Harper

Well, isn’t there going to be a native American owned one some place south of richmond?
Also, Rosies on South side has a big building full of slot machines, so saying its not a “casino” seems like a play on words to me.

kay christensen
kay christensen
25 days ago
Reply to  Eunice Toombs

Please stop with the racist tropes…

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
25 days ago

Like rebranding segregationist schools as “charter schools”?

kay christensen
kay christensen
22 days ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

….just scratching my head…

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
13 days ago
Reply to  Eunice Toombs

Laughable drivel Eunice.

James tate
James tate
25 days ago

I would guess a lot of people were turned off by Al Sharpton coming to town, you think he came here with the Richmond residents in mind? That grifter was looking to line his pockets.

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
25 days ago

The voters made a wise decision. With planned casinos in Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth, and the existing one in Maryland, the market for a casino in Richmond would shrink over time. In effect Richmond would almost be surrounded by competitors.

Furthermore the location wouldn’t have been a turn off for tourists. There’s no WOW in an industrial area surrounded by low income neighborhoods.

Robert Clay
Robert Clay
24 days ago

City money stolen

I am wondering how many people visit Scotts Landing and see all of the partying, drinking people, and walking up and down Broad Street activity?. How dare the people in that area pass judgement on establishing a Casino.in the city? Bingo’s, breweries, bars, and everything else you can name. Where were these same people when Scott’s Addition was setting up sophisticated places to get drunk, gamble, and entertain. I can say that when I did visit Casino’s there was never the behavior of people like I have seen up and down Broad Street in Scott’s Addition. There is no concern about people not being able to afford gambling. There is only concern for wealthy people protecting what they have built up no matter how much they try to disguise the dirt behind the scene. The biggest question I have this moment is, when are the people in Scott’s Addition getting together to write the city of Richmond, a 25 million dollar check? Richmond is a city that is falling apart, and this is a very good example of an urban city being lead by outsiders moving into the city.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
24 days ago
Reply to  Robert Clay

I have no idea where Scott’s Landing is,but it sounds like a hoot.
Also looking forward to finding the gambling in Scott’s Addition.

A big waterfront casino in either Hopewell or Petersburg seems like a good idea to me, but i could see Urban One trying t find a backdoor to the Richmond area.

Also Urban One’s stock price went down about 40% since they got kicked to the curb.

Frederick Burfict
Frederick Burfict
24 days ago

That’s alright residences of Richmonds we’ll be more than happy to have it in Petersburg .