The city of Richmond is considering an extension of its previously targeted completion date to October 1st, 2024, as the final terms of a casino development agreement are still expecting approval from the Richmond City Council.
As explained by Richmond officials, expanding the deadline by nine months would provide Urban ONE with more flexibility while waiting to get the green light from the Virginia Lottery. The latter is the body responsible for granting the operating license for the casino in case Richmond voters say yes to the project in the referendum that is to take place on November 2nd.
In June, Richmond City Council voted 8 to 1 to hold a referendum for the previously unveiled casino project following the recommendation of some city officials and Mayor Levar Stoney.
According to previous expectations shared by administration officials, the casino project would start operation by December 31st, 2023. However, they recently offered an extension of the deadline in exchange for an additional amount of $1 million to the already agreed payment of $25 million that is set to be made by Urban ONE in case the casino measure is passed.
Still, under the updated terms of the agreement, Urban ONE is not required to open its planned luxury 12-story, 250-room hotel until a year after the casino venue starts operation, on October 1st, 2025.
Urban ONE to File Casino License Application No Later than December 15th
The director of economic development of the city of Richmond, Leonard Sledge, explained to the Richmond City Council that the primary reason for the delay is the fact that neither the city nor One Casino and Resort have autonomy or control over the process of issuing an operating license from the Virginia Lottery. Mr. Sledge said city officials are willing to see the project start operation early.
The city has been seeking the early completion of the project in return for 1.875% of the casino operator’s annual gambling revenue to the city in case the casino is finalized before October 1st, 2024, instead of the 3% that the company plans to spare every year.
An Urban ONE spokesperson explained that the gambling operator needs this flexibility because the state’s gambling regulatory body has been given up to 12 months to make a final decision on its casino project license application. The spokesperson shared no later than December 15th, 2021 in case the referendum passes on November 2nd.
As reported by CasinoGamesPro in May 2021, Richmond City Council chose Urban ONE to operate the proposed casino project after reviewing and considering six proposals. Urban ONE has joined forces with the racetrack operator Peninsula Pacific Entertainment for the project, which involves the establishment of a $600-million casino resort in the city. According to city officials, the new casino would bring annual tax revenue of $30 million for the city.
The casino development proposals have been requested by the city of Richmond under the new casino law of the state of Virginia, which gave permission to a total of five cities, including Danville, Richmond, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Bristol, to establish casino venues if such an expansion is approved by local voters.