Bill Removes Richmond, Virginia, As Eligible Casino Site

Richmond, VA – Casinos looking to have a foothold on Richmond shall have to look for another location, as Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin recently signed bills to remove Richmond from the list of the state’s eligible cities to host a casino. Delegate Betsy Carr and state Sen. Lamont Bagby proposed the bills Democrats representing parts of Richmond, The measures made it through both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly unanimously.

According to the ABC 8 News article, Sen. Bagby said in a phone interview, noting that Richmond residents voted him into the state Senate: “I supported the casino, but the people have spoken twice.”

The decision to sign the bill comes five months after voters defeated a proposal in November to bring a casino to the city’s Southside for the second time. The first time the vote got close (in a 51% to 49% vote in 2021) but was rejected in the second attempt, with nearly 62% of voters defeating the ballot referendum.

Virginia State Code Sets Limits to Eligible Cities

According to Virginia State Code, while it doesn’t list down cities eligible to host a Virginia casino, it does cite certain limits and requirements. The bills signed by the governor strip out language making Richmond eligible. Specifically, the Virginia State Code dictates that:

“The conduct of casino gaming shall be limited to the following eligible host cities:

Any city with a population greater than 200,000 according to the 2018 population estimates from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia; (ii) in which at least 24 percent of the assessed value of all real estate in such city is exempt from local property taxation, according to the Virginia Department of Taxation Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2018;”

Based on the aforementioned criteria, the city of Richmond checks off most of the Virginia State Code parameters. The city had more than 230,000 residents in 2018. Likewise, a quarter of the assessed value of all real estate in the city was exempt from property taxes in fiscal year 2018.

While another bill could eventually add this language back and improve Richmond casino’s chances, Bagby said the odds of that possibility are “slim to none,” 8 News reported.

Reaction from Pro-Casino Representatives

8th District Richmond City Council member Reva Trammell, one of the most ardent backers of having casinos in Virginia, said she wasn’t aware of the bills being signed, and asked how long the city would be blocked from holding another vote when she was in a phone interview with 8News on Wednesday.

Tramell was also still critical of the recent decision about efforts to legalize skill games and electronic betting machines that have similarities to slot machines,

“What makes it [skill games] safer than a casino? The casino was going to be a very, very safe place,”

8News also tried to get a comment from other lawmakers in Virginia who support and are vocal proponents for getting casinos established in the city such as Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, another top supporter of the project and vocal proponent of all the city’s efforts to get a casino, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Re-approval for Casino Projects in other Virginia cities Required

Following the approval of the bills, Virginia cities that were originally eligible casino sites will need to have their credentials reviewed and reapproved. Petersburg is one such city that got its casino project approved last March, and potential partner casino operators have already passed their proposals and are being reviewed. 

But the approved version of the bill includes a reenactment clause that states the measure will not take effect unless the legislature approves it again during a regular or special session.

Virginia’s Online Casino Scene

While Virginia state has not yet legalized online casinos, West Virginia has allowed online casinos and online sports betting. This is attributed to the political conflicts dating back to the 1800s, which culminated with West Virginia deciding to separate itself and become a new state.

Residents in West Virginia have access to local and offshore online casinos, and enjoy playing the latest slot games, classic card games like baccarat, blackjack, and video poker, as well as table games like roulette and their respective live dealer versions.

But where does that leave Virginia residents who want to experience playing online casino games?

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Last Updated on by jonathan r

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