Virginia City That Rejected Casino Reconsiders Its Opposition

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A city in Virginia that once had no casino ambitions is having a change of heart. Petersburg is now trying to drum up support for a casino referendum after seeing the revenue gambling can offer.

Petersburg Wants Back on the Gambling Map

On Tuesday night, the city council approved its legislative agenda, which includes a proposal to allow city residents to vote on the future of gambling by 2025. This is just one of the six interconnected requests outlined in the agenda.

According to the document, if Petersburg follows in the footsteps of Danville and Bristol, similar positive results could be expected for Petersburg as well. Both of those cities have seen positive outcomes with the recent establishment of Caesar's Virginia and Hard Rock casinos.

The rationale behind the Petersburg policy is based on the acknowledgment that the city is undergoing hardship. In light of this, the introduction of a casino has the potential to offer substantial economic aid. By doing so, the business can pave the way for job openings that surpass the existing median household income of approximately $44,000 annually and the per capita income of roughly $26,000 per year for residents.

According to officials from Danville, the newly opened Caesars casino managed to accumulate an impressive $107.9 million in gaming revenue for the state, along with an additional $6.5 million in local tax revenue. On the other hand, Bristol's Hard Rock, which launched operations in July 2022, has successfully generated $215.7 million in gaming revenue for the state.

The revenue projections provided by the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission indicate that the anticipated income from a casino in Petersburg could reach $204 million. This would subsequently provide over $12 million in tax revenue.

Richmond's Loss Is Petersburg's Gain

The announcement arrived as no surprise, being delivered two weeks subsequent to the refusal of a second referendum by voting citizens in Richmond. The referendum, had it been approved, would have granted permission for constructing a massive casino and resort costing $562 million on the southern outskirts of the city.

Notably, this rejection marks the second time in two years that Richmond residents refrained from accepting such a proposal. When the first referendum failed, the resulting change fueled a dispute between Richmond and Petersburg, ultimately leading to a sequence of two legislative sessions and multiple political confrontations. These clashes ultimately resulted in Petersburg being excluded from the competition.

In November, a significant 61% of the electorate in Richmond dealt a mortal blow to the city's aspirations for a casino once again, thereby offering an opportunity to Petersburg. Apparently, Richmond's local government is gradually accepting the outcome, with Mayor Levar Stoney declaring the need to shift focus toward alternative endeavors.

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