Legislative efforts in Virginia to revive ONE Casino + Resort in Richmond face a significant hurdle in the name of Virginia State Sen. Joe Morrissey who is adamant that he would do what it takes to block the initiative from being put on this year’s referendum.
Sen. Morrissey Threatens to Derail the Casino
The ONE Casino + Resort, a casino project dating back to 2021 when the state approved five cities, Richmond, Danville, Bristol, Norfolk and Portsmouth, to build casinos is the only one which failed to materialize to date.
The measure was rejected during the 2021 referendum after 51% of the voters decided against it in 2021, while in 2022, Sen. Morrissey introduced a state budget amendment to block the casino, saying that the casino should be built in Petersburg instead. A casino measure in Petersburg also failed to pass.
Morrissey is threatening to block the project again and quash hopes after this week’s Richmond City Council vote that it would be back on the ballot this fall, determined to prevent Richmond from building a casino.
“I will do what I can to make sure there’s budget language that prohibits Richmond from getting a casino,” Morrissey commented for NBC12 Richmond, explaining how disappointed he feels that the city “keeps going back, trying to get a referendum.”
It reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day. We hear it over and over again.
Sen. Joe Morrissey
And while Morrissey is fighting to legally block the casino, he is not the only opposition to the project, joined by Allan-Charles Chipman from Initiatives of Change USA, who believes the issue about the casino “is really about how Richmond feels about respecting democratic processes or not,” also saying that the Richmond casino project is still the same.
Casino Project Still the Same
The $562.5 million ONE Casino + Resort project involves building a 250-room hotel, a 3,000-seat entertainment venue, and restaurants, as well as a casino and will be jointly operated by Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) and Urban One via their joint venture, RVA Entertainment Holdings.
The casino property is estimated to generate $29.7 million yearly. If the measure goes to the November vote and is approved by the voters, the agreement with Richmond City Council stipulates that the developer pays $25.5 million to the city.
City of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney believes that the measure has the potential to pass the referendum this time, looking forward to the November vote filled with optimism.
“I feel really good,” Mayor Stoney commented. “I feel really optimistic about what November may hold,” he added.
If Morrissey’s attempts to block the measure fail, it would still have to be approved by both the Virginia Lottery and Richmond Circuit Court before it is put on the November ballot.