Virginia Senator Updates Proposal for Fairfax County Casino Construction

Virginia State Senator Dave Marsden has reintroduced a bill that could lead to the development of a resort-style casino similar to MGM National Harbor. His earlier attempt faced setbacks, prompting a strategic revision to address concerns from residents, particularly in Reston. The new proposal is strict about the casino’s placement, limiting it to Tysons and excluding Reston from consideration.

The bill specifies that the eligible location for the casino must be within one-quarter of a mile of an existing station on the Metro Silver Line, part of a coordinated mixed-use project development, outside the Dulles airport flight path, within two miles of a major shopping destination containing at least 1.5 million square feet of gross building area, and outside the Interstate 495 Beltway. The bill singles out a particular parcel in Tysons — the site of a defunct auto dealership on Route 7.

The legislative journey for this proposal involves several steps. First, the bill must navigate through both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly and gain the signature of Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Should the bill receive approval, it would then proceed to the county level, where the county board would need to request a referendum. This referendum would allow Fairfax County voters to voice their opinion on whether they support the establishment of a casino.

Proponents envision a comprehensive development that goes beyond mere gambling, including a convention center, hotels, restaurants, office space, and residences. The project aims to address the decline in commercial real estate tax revenue, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. State Senator and Democratic Majority Leader Scott Surovell stressed the importance of securing additional revenue sources to prevent homeowners from bearing the burden and emphasized the county’s need to diversify its revenue streams.

Despite the potential economic benefits and job creation outlined in a 2019 study by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, there is considerable opposition from local governments and community associations in the Tysons region. The path to establishing a casino in Fairfax County remains uncertain, and the proposal’s fate hinges on legislative approval and the voice of the county’s voters.