Virginia Lawmakers Pass Bill to Exclude Richmond from Casino Consideration

Virginia Lawmakers Unanimously Vote to Remove Richmond from Consideration as Casino Site

Following the rejection of a casino proposal by the voters of Richmond for the second time, Virginia lawmakers have taken decisive action by unanimously voting to permanently remove the city from consideration as a potential casino site.

The bipartisan effort in the Virginia General Assembly saw overwhelming support for bills aimed at eliminating Richmond from the list of eligible host cities for a casino. The House of Delegates voted 100-0 in favor of the legislation, and the state Senate followed suit with a 40-0 vote.

The proposed bills, championed by lawmakers representing Richmond, including Del. Betsy Carr and state Sen. Lamont Bagby, reflect 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.

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, discussions around Petersburg’s eligibility for a casino are still ongoing, and plans for a casino referendum in Fairfax County have been postponed until 2025. There has been no immediate response from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s spokesperson regarding the legislative development, but the ongoing 2024 General Assembly session is scheduled to conclude on March 9.