Voters in Richmond, VA, might see another casino referendum on the ballot this year after all. They rejected the idea of a casino coming to the city last year, but the Richmond City Council wasn’t giving up. It planned to put the measure back on the ballot this year, but a state senator tried to scuttle those plans. Now, his plan has been scuttled.
Virginia Political Battle Brewing
A powerful state Senate committee voted down Thursday night a proposal that would have allowed Petersburg residents the right to vote on the possibility of hosting a casino. A bill by Senator Joe Morrissey would also have stopped Richmond from holding a second referendum for five years after the city’s voters narrowly defeated a proposal to build a casino.
Morrissey stated that he was shocked by the events following the meeting. He added that he will discuss the vote with Democratic caucus members and will attempt to revive the bill.
Morrissey stated that Richmond’s right to vote again would be undemocratic and redundant.
Morrissey started looking into how Petersburg could possibly take Richmond’s place, in the hope that it would help revitalize the district of 33,000 people. However, the bill also blocks that effort.
The vote of the committee to reject the bill was 9-7. Both Republicans and Democrats controlled the committee supported the bill.
Virginia’s for Lovers, Not Gamblers
Gambling companies advertising with the slogan “Virginia Is for Bettors” could face a $50,000 fine under a bill proposed by a state senator. He feels the phrase is infringing on the popular tourism slogan “Virginia Is for Lovers.”
Senator Tommy Norment said that he was inspired by a radio advertisement while driving to Richmond, according to the Virginia Mercury.
Last month, he told a Senate gambling subcommittee, “Frankly, it annoyed me. We’ve spent a lifetime trying to market ‘Virginia is for Lovers.’ I just felt it was trespassing on it.”
This week, the state Senate passed the bill 40-0. It doesn’t seem to have faced opposition from either casino operators or betting companies.
An earlier draft of the bill would have prohibited gambling interests from using the name of the state entirely. While the casino industry didn’t seem to oppose the new bill, it was vocal on the previous one. Norment stated that the bill was narrowed after “got some of the people in the gaming industry all excited” after reading the draft.
The bill will have to be approved by the House of Delegates and Governor Glenn Youngkin before it becomes law. However, as one lawmaker, Senator John Bell, pointed out, there doesn’t appear to be anything preventing the gambling industry from using “Virginia is for lovers who bet.”