The Mayor of Richmond Levar Stoney issued a statement informing the wider public about the failure of the casino gaming referendum.
Mr. Stoney, a vocal supporter of the casino project himself, shared his opinion that the decision lost a $565-million opportunity to create new jobs and boost revenue that goes into the city’s coffers while still keeping taxes low, but the authorities will respect local people’s stance on the matter. He further noted that he remains appreciative of the members of the economic development team who took part in the negotiations regarding the casino project and to the Richmond City Council that overwhelmingly supported the proposal.
The opponents of the ONE Casino and Resort project for the south part of the city declared their victory just before midnight on November 2nd when the preliminary results of the casino referendum in Richmond showed they were ahead of the casino project supporters by 2,200 votes. As reported by 71 of a total of 72 precincts, more than half of the city voters (51.4%) chose to vote with a “No” at the referendum. Most of the precincts located in North Side and West End turned down the proposal for a casino, while the majority of the South Richmond-based precincts voted in favor of the project.
Urban One, an American media conglomerate, was seeking the approval of local voters for its proposal to build a casino and hotel resort worth $565 million in the city.
Urban One Spent $2 Million While Seeking Richmond Voters’ Approval for the Casino
The vote of Richmond residents was in stark contrast to the ballot measures that four other cities in the state of Virginia took over the last year, approving similar referendums with large majorities of 65% or more. The election officials in the city are still required to report and verify the late-arriving ballots and provisional votes sent by mail before the official results of the election are certified.
Although the supporters of Urban One’s casino resort project have been working to persuade both Richmond authorities and residents that the proposal would be good for the city through a robust campaign, the company’s efforts have been turned down at the referendum, as local people decided not to give their approval to the project.
Alfred Liggins, the CEO of the company, shared his disappointment after the vote but also added that Urban One may now work to build a casino in a city or county in close proximity to Richmond. Of course, such a move would first need to get the approval of the Virginia General Assembly.
The owners of the Richmond casino project spent about $2 million while campaigning for the proposal. They tirelessly advertised the casino plans and their projected benefits on mail campaigns, media advertisements and volunteers meeting with local people. According to preliminary expectations, the establishment of the casino and resort would provide the city with fresh tax revenue of $50 million every year, and would also bring other amenities to Richmond, such as on-site TV and radio studio, a bunch of new restaurants and a 3,000-seat theater.
In contrast, the opponents of the casino project held a pretty modest campaign worth only about one-tenth of the amount spent by Urban One in favor of the project. Anti-casino campaigners have claimed that the establishment of such a venue would deteriorate poverty rates and result in an increase in problem gambling rates in Richmond.