Richmond Councilmember Not Ready to Give Up on City Casino, Seeks 2022 Referendum

In November, Richmond residents made their voices heard when they rejected a proposed commercial casino development in the Virginia capital. However, a city executive believes voters should be asked again about the issue.

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) and Urban One’s proposed $565 million development, called ONE Casino + Resort, was chosen earlier this year by Richmond City as its preferred casino development. Richmond is one of the five cities that qualified for a gaming development under Virginia’s commercial gaming bill, passed in 2020.

However, last month, a little more than 51% of Richmond voters rejected ONE Casino. Richmond was the only casino qualifier of the five to opt against a gaming development.

Richmond City Councilmember Reva Trammel believes a second referendum on the gaming matter needs to be held during the 2022 midterms.

“This is the place where it should have been, where it needs to come back,” Trammel told 8News recently

Trammel represents the 8th voter district, where ONE Casino was targeted. Although P2E and Urban One have not hinted whether they would be open to a second local vote, a state senator in Virginia plans to impede such a potential referendum from happening. 

State Legislative Effort

There are adversaries to Trammel’s effort to hold another casino vote in Richmond. State Senator Joe Morrissey (D-16th District), whose district includes the Greater Richmond region, plans to introduce a bill in the Virginia capital that would block a second gaming referendum in the city.

If passed and signed by the governor, Morrissey’s legislation would bar Richmond from asking city residents about gaming for a minimum of five years.

“We have to respect the democratic vote,” declared Morrissey.

The state senator compared Trammel’s efforts to a politician narrowly losing an election and demanding another vote the following year. Morrissey said that another Richmond casino vote would go against the democratic process.

Morrissey’s Richmond sports betting legislation might not be the only piece of a bill introduced in the State Capitol concerning casino efforts in the capital region. Executives in nearby Petersburg say they would happily welcome ONE Casino + Resort. However, doing so would call for state legislators and the governor to allow gaming to come to a small town located around 20 miles south of Richmond.

Before the November referendum, Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins said the company would explore other locations for the casino development should the Richmond vote fail.

“If it doesn’t work in the city of Richmond, I believe that the General Assembly will ultimately look to put it in a locality in and around Richmond in Central Virginia in one of the outlying counties that do want it. I do not believe that the General Assembly and the governor will want to leave Central Virginia without a gaming opportunity,” Liggins opined.

P2E losing streak

It has been a disappointing few weeks for Peninsula Pacific Entertainment. A little more than a month after Richmond residents denied Urban One and the company entry to the Virginia capital, P2E suffered a similar defeat in Louisiana. 

This last weekend, residents in Slidell, La., said no to P2E’s desires to build a $325 million casino resort on Lake Pontchartrain, about 20 miles northeast of New Orleans. Peninsula Pacific hoped to relocate its gaming operation from Bossier City to Slidell. P2E permanently closed its DiamondJacks Casino in Bossier City last year.

However, P2E is still invested in Virginia, despite the Richmond rejection. P2E owns and runs the Colonial Downs Racetrack and Rosie’s Gaming Emporium. In addition, Rosie’s has historically horse racing (HHR) gaming and PointsBet sports wagering destinations in Richmond, Hampton, Collinsville, Vinton, and Dumfries.

Last Updated on by Ryan

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