The Cordish Companies feels like Norfolk, Virginia jilted when it awarded a casino license to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe last year. The two entities were vying for the rights for a casino in the city and Cordish was convinced it had the upper hand before Norfolk chose its rival. Now, the casino operator is out for justice and wants the city to pay it $100 million.
Cordish Sues Norfolk Over Broken Relationship
Cordish, which owns and operates Live! casinos in Maryland and Pennsylvania, has filed suit against Norfolk in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond. It contends that it, not the Pamunkey tribe, was the rightful heir to a casino license after Virginia voters approved gambling expansion in the state and that there never should have been a debate over who would lead Richmond’s efforts. Cordish asserts that it has “suffered significant damages” that include lost profits and wants to be compensated for the losses.
Norfolk had a couple of proposals to consider before it ultimately chose the Pamunkey tribe; however, Cordish believes it had an ironclad agreement that predated any definitive talk of a casino coming to Norfolk. That stems from an agreement that it said was made in 2013 as the city brought in the company to redevelop its Waterside District. The marketplace, which offered a variety of entertainment, nightlife and amenities, was constantly losing money and was on the brink of imploding. Cordish agreed to come in and turn things around, but only if it was guaranteed first rights to a casino in the city. The operator asserts that it never would have agreed to take on the Waterside revitalization project if it hadn’t been given that guarantee.
Norfolk Ready to Do Battle
Norfolk is prepared to fight the lawsuit and could go a step further. Based on comments made by Bernard Pishko, the city’s attorney, Cordish’s allegations are complete lies and could be considered defamation. He told a local media outlet that Cordish’s lawsuit is “not based in fact,” adding that it is “so defamatory that they asked that if I accepted their offer to receive a copy in advance in order to discuss a settlement that I would have to agree to not sue them for defamation.”
Unless Cordish can produce verifiable documents to support its claims that it had a standing agreement with the city, it will have a difficult time proving its point. The company isn’t winning any friends with its lawsuit and, even though it has more casino experience than the Pamunkey tribe, could be setting itself up for additional problems down the road unless it’s prepared to prove that the Waterside arrangement contained the casino clause.