Earlier this week, the Richmond City Council finally approved the plans and contract terms for the long-considered casino project which is set to be included by the city on the upcoming ballots.
There are only about three months left until the November 2nd elections. Now, with the move of the Richmond City Council to finalize plans and contract terms for the casino resort project, the venue seems closer. Still, the Richmond casino project needs to get the approval of local voters.
In case local voters give the nod to the ballot measure at the beginning of November, the media conglomerate Urban One, which was announced as the City Council’s choice for the casino developer, is set to receive official approval to establish a luxury resort hotel and casino on a piece of land that is currently owned by Philip Morris USA.
City officials who have given their support to the project have praised the annual tax revenue of about $30 million it is expected to bring to the region. Furthermore, the casino resort is expected to establish over 1,000 jobs that would help the development of the region. However, the project opponents have expressed their concern that a big portion of the casino revenue will be generated from people who are socially disadvantaged and cannot afford to lose money on gambling.
Target Casino Opening Date for Chosen Contractor Set for October 2024
The abovementioned terms approved by the Richmond City Council include an upfront payment amounting to $25.5 million in case the measure is passed, a payment of $16 million to local government and non-profit organizations that is set to be made over the next 10 years, $6 million of which would be contributed for various research initiatives and missions. The establishment of a radio and television production studio on-site is also included in the development plans.
The terms of the agreement with the Urban ONE casino developer were unanimously approved by the Richmond City Council, after 6 of 8 people who spoke at the public hearing on July 26th supported it. Despite the support which the project gets from local officials, business and non-profit organizations, some residents of the city have not decided whether they would give their support for the casino or do not believe that the establishment of a casino will have a positive impact on the city.
According to previous expectations shared by Richmond administration officials, the planned casino would start operation by December 31st, 2023. However, they have recently offered to extend the deadline for the venue’s establishment in exchange for a $1 million extra payment to the upfront payment of $25.5 million that had been promised by Urban One to the city in case the casino measure is given the green light.
The city is to stimulate the contractor about an early completion of the casino project before October 1st, 2024 by allowing the company to pay 1.875% of its annual revenue generated by its gambling operations for 1 year, instead of the 3% portion it is required to pay. According to the terms, the development team is not required to open the planned hotel by that date in order to meet the target.