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Betting.net / Petersburg awaits casino vote, Richmond faces setback

Petersburg awaits casino vote, Richmond faces setback

Publish Date: January 20, 2024
Fact checked by: Jesse M Cox
w, tags: casino - images.unsplash.com

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Petersburg, Virginia, seeks to host a commercial casino in the state, while Richmond, the state capital, faces a legislative obstacle. A bill in the 2024 Virginia General Assembly session would bar Richmond from holding another casino referendum, after two failed attempts.

The bill, proposed by Del. Betsy Carr (D-Richmond), aims to remove Richmond from the list of eligible cities for a casino license. Carr’s bill follows two failed attempts by Richmond voters to approve a casino project in the city. The latest one, backed by Urban One, was rejected by a wide margin in November 2023.

Meanwhile, Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and Del. Lashrecse Aird (D-Petersburg) have sponsored a bill that would make Petersburg eligible for a casino vote. The bill sets certain criteria for the host city, such as population, poverty rate, and unemployment rate, which Petersburg meets.

Petersburg officials and residents have expressed interest in having a casino in their city, hoping it would bring economic benefits and jobs. Mayor Samuel Parham (D) and the City Council have endorsed the idea, and a recent poll showed that 64 percent of Petersburg voters would support a casino referendum.

The casino bills have yet to be heard by a legislative committee, but they are expected to have a significant impact on the future of gambling in Virginia. The state legalized casino gambling in 2020, allowing five cities — Portsmouth, Norfolk, Danville, Bristol and Richmond — to hold referendums on whether to host a casino. So far, only Richmond has failed to do so.

Casino proponents argue that casinos would generate tax revenue, create employment opportunities, and attract tourism. Casino opponents, however, raise concerns about social costs, such as gambling addiction, crime, and corruption. They also question the fairness and transparency of the casino selection process.

As the general assembly session continues, the fate of the casino bills remains uncertain. Petersburg hopes to join the other four cities that have already approved casino projects, while Richmond seeks to overcome the legislative obstacle and try again for a casino license.

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