The ONE Casino proposal will go to a Richmond voter referendum in November, after the City Council approved a recommendation from an evaluation panel. On Monday evening, the Council and the public discussed the proposal. Proponents said the casino would provide an economic boost for the Southside Richmond area including tax revenue and more jobs guaranteed to start at $15 per hour. Opponents said the casino’s profits would come at the cost of Richmond’s lower income communities and could struggle to attract outside tourism.
“It’s just not a casino. It’s going to be entertainment, live entertainment. It’s going to be a park for the children, a park for the animals to be there. This is something that is really, really big for Southside, not only just the eighth district. This is probably the biggest development I know in the eighth district in over 50-some years,” Eighth District Council Member Reva Trammell said.
Second District Council Member Katherine Jordan was the only member to vote against the proposal.
Jordan explained, “I don’t support gaming, my constituents overwhelmingly said not only do they not want a casino in Scott’s Addition, but they didn’t want one, period, when they reached out to me. But then in our board packet today we had over 750 emails in support of Urban One and we had seven against.”
“I’m really torn on this vote,” Jordan said. “If we were to derail this at this moment, does that mean that we would just end up with a casino right across the Richmond boundary with none of the negotiated benefits that the selection committee has worked so hard on, and potentially all the downsides?”
During the vote, Trammell interrupted after Jordan voted.
“You and I had a conversation. I gave you my word,” Trammell said. “And we were on the phone, not in an email, not in a text. I gave you my word because I know so many people over there in the second that I would not go against you if you did not want it in your district. You told me you would support me for my people, black and brown and white, for me to have this ONE Casino in my district.”
Several other cities across Virginia are also moving forward with casino plans. As part of the expansion of gambling in Virginia, online sports betting is booming, and the Colonial Downs Group is expanding its physical locations across the state.
The public comment before the vote had several speakers on both sides of the issue.
Eight district resident Rodney Hall said, “It’s a win-win for Richmond. We want one in the eighth because of the jobs and the economic development not just for the eighth district but for all of Richmond.”
Hall mentioned jobs provided by the casino. He also mentioned infrastructure and school improvements that could be paid for with tax revenue. He said, “We want one because of the increase in security surrounding this area, eyes around the property, a new [Richmond Police Department] substation for the area, hopefully. An increase in populace means a decrease in crime. The new tax revenue for Richmond is not at taxpayers’ expense.”
Bridging the Gap in Virginia Founder Richard Walker said, “They sent a Black entity, Urban One, into a Black community to convince Black individuals that this is good for the community. But in reality, they’re major corporate greed that are going to reap the benefits from it. It’s not going to trickle down to the community, and I am a hundred and ten percent against it, that Richmond does not have the capacity for it. They will not bring in any high rollers to it, to increase the revenue that comes through the casino.”
Walker said, “It’s just not good for this city. You have individuals that will be preyed upon, those that are making less than $50,000 a year. They’re the ones that are going to suffer in the long run.”
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