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Silvia Pavlof February 9, 2024 2 min read
Virginia Lawmakers Vote to Exclude Richmond from Casino Consideration
The bills, supported by Richmond lawmakers like Del. Betsy Carr and state Sen. Lamont Bagby, are a direct response to Richmond residents rejecting a casino proposal twice
In a decisive move following Richmond voters’ rejection of a casino proposal for the second time, Virginia lawmakers have unanimously voted to permanently remove the city from consideration as a potential casino site.
Richmond’s Removal from Casino Eligibility Sealed by 100-0 House Vote
The Virginia General Assembly, in a bipartisan effort, passed bills aimed at eliminating Richmond from the list of eligible host cities for a casino, reported 8News WRIC. The legislative action saw overwhelming support, with the House of Delegates voting 100-0 and the state Senate following suit with a 40-0 vote in favor of advancing the legislation.
The proposed bills, championed by lawmakers representing Richmond, including Del. Betsy Carr and state Sen. Lamont Bagby, signify a response to the clear stance expressed by the people of Richmond through their rejection of the casino proposal.
Sen. Bagby emphasized the importance of representing the will of the citizens, stating that he was voted in by the people of the city of Richmond and that they had expressed their disapproval twice.
The legislative move seeks to amend the state code, which previously listed cities like Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville, and Bristol as eligible casino locations but had criteria that could potentially include Richmond.
The Proposed Legislation Follows Two Referendum Rejections
If signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the bills will effectively remove Richmond from consideration by eliminating language that previously made the city eligible. Criteria such as population size, property tax exemptions, and poverty rates would no longer apply to Richmond.
According to estimates from the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia, Richmond’s population exceeded 230,000 in 2018, surpassing the threshold for eligibility.
Additionally, more than a quarter of the assessed value of real estate in the city was exempt from property taxes in fiscal year 2018.
The decision comes after Richmond faced disappointment in its casino endeavors, with voters rejecting the proposal by a significant margin in both 2021 and November 2023 referendums.
Meanwhile, the legislative process continues to unfold, with discussions around Petersburg’s eligibility for a casino still ongoing. Plans for a casino referendum in Fairfax County have been postponed until 2025. While there has been no immediate response from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney‘s spokesperson regarding the legislative development, the ongoing 2024 General Assembly session is scheduled to conclude on March 9.