The Virginia House of Delegates has given the green light to the Petersburg casino bill. The proposed piece of legislation seeks to qualify the city to consider the addition of a casino resort and prevent the city of Richmond from organizing another casino gambling referendum until Petersburg administers its own initiative on the issue.
House Bill 1373, which was introduced by Del. Kimberly Taylor, is set to provide the city of Petersburg with the opportunity to ask local voters whether they are willing to add a casino as an extra revenue stream. As CasinoGamesPro reported previously, in 2020 Virginia lawmakers qualified five locations across the state – Richmond, Danville, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Norfolk – to consider the addition of casino resorts.
Under the provisions of the 2022 law, each of the aforementioned cities was required to carry out a competitive bidding process to see whether local voters are willing to add a new form of gambling. After selecting a preferred developer, each project needs to receive local voters’ final approval in a referendum. Voters in all locations but Richmond signed off on the proposed establishment.
Now, Del. Kimberly Taylor and Senator Joe Morrissey are willing to transfer the rejected casino opportunity of Richmond about 20 miles south, in Petersburg, where local officials hope to be able to establish a gambling venue. Last week, the legislative effort of Senator Morrissey was killed in a Senate Committee, but the companion legislation of Del. Taylor managed to find the necessary support in the lower chamber.
On February 7th, HB 1371 managed to pass the House by a close vote of 49 to 44, which took place on the final day of the latest legislative session and was the last chance for the proposed bill to be sent to the other chamber. With the House’s approval, the draft is now being taken to the Senate for further consideration and approval.
Both Casinos in Richmond and Petersburg Could Be Viable, New Inquiry Shows
As CasinoGamesPro has previously reported, Richmond Government officials have been hoping to carry out another referendum in order to ask local voters for their opinion on the addition of a casino venue. Churchill Downs and Urban One are still interested in the construction of a $565 million casino called One Casino and Resort but it is still worth remembering that the casino referendum held by the city in 2021 was narrowly defeated by 51% to 49% vote.
Senator Morrissey has shared that the will of the people in Richmond should be taken into account, so the fifth and final casino license in the state of Virginia should be redirected elsewhere. In 2022, he managed to convince his fellow state lawmakers to include a budget provision that essentially blocked the city of Richmond from organizing another gambling referendum until at least November 2023.
Also, as a result of his efforts to ensure the relocation of the Richmond casino license to the city of Petersburg, Virginia legislators appointed the Joined Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the viability of potential casino establishments in both cities. The probe held by the Commission concluded that casinos in both locations could be profitable, although each one would generate considerably more revenue without the other.
According to the results of the Joined Legislative Audit and Review Commission review, Virginia lawmakers should take all facts into account and then develop a legislative strategy that is economically beneficial for both cities.