Richmond’s Exclusion from Casino Consideration Solidified with 100-0 House Vote

In response to Richmond voters’ rejection of a casino proposal for the second time, lawmakers in Virginia have taken a decisive step to permanently remove the city from consideration as a potential casino site.

The Virginia General Assembly, in a display of bipartisan unity, passed bills aimed at eliminating Richmond from the list of eligible host cities for a casino. The House of Delegates voted 100-0 in favor of the legislation, with the state Senate following suit with a 40-0 vote to advance the bills.

The proposed legislation, championed by lawmakers representing Richmond, including Del. Betsy Carr and Sen. Lamont Bagby, reflects the clear stance expressed by the people of Richmond through their rejection of the casino proposal.

Sen. Bagby emphasized the importance of representing the will of the citizens, noting that he was voted in by the people of the city of Richmond and that they had expressed their disapproval twice.

The legislative move aims to amend the state code, which previously listed cities like Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville, and Bristol as eligible casino locations but had criteria that could potentially include Richmond.

If signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the bills will effectively remove Richmond from consideration by eliminating language that previously made the city eligible. Criteria such as population size, property tax exemptions, and poverty rates would no longer apply to Richmond.

Estimates from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia show that Richmond’s population exceeded 230,000 in 2018, surpassing the threshold for eligibility. Additionally, more than a quarter of the assessed value of real estate in the city was exempt from property taxes in fiscal year 2018.

The decision comes after Richmond faced disappointment in its casino endeavors, with voters rejecting the proposal by a significant margin in both 2021 and November 2023 referendums.

Meanwhile, discussions around Petersburg’s eligibility for a casino are still ongoing, and plans for a casino referendum in Fairfax County have been postponed until 2025. As the 2024 General Assembly session continues, there has been no immediate response from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s spokesperson regarding the legislative development. The session is scheduled to conclude on March 9.

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