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Virginia Judge Blocks Planned Casino Vote in Richmond

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A court order permitting a new citywide casino vote in Richmond, Virginia, set for November 7, has been temporarily halted by Richmond Circuit Court Judge William R. Marchant. The suspension allows time for legal objections to be submitted by the city attorney's office and the nonprofit organization Richmond Lodge No. 1 of the Good Lions, which opposes the casino proposal. The original order, intended to be finalized on August 15, has been postponed to permit time for legal examination.

Legal Complexities and City's Advocacy for Casino Project

The suspension grants three days for additional legal preparation, with a ruling on the intervention motion scheduled for August 23. Richmond's Senior Assistant City Attorney, Wirt P. Marks, voiced concerns over possible delays in public notification. Still, Judge Marchant assured that the process would only be impeded if the motion to intervene was granted. The situation remains under careful legal scrutiny.

Richmond City Attorney Laura K. Drewry stated her confidence in the city's legal stance, emphasizing that the court's action merely extended time for complete argumentation. Richmond has pushed for a casino project since its first proposal in 2021 was narrowly voted down, and another attempt was prevented in 2022. In June, the City Council and Virginia Lottery approved a $562 million casino resort proposal.

Good Lions contested the court order for the casino vote, alleging that Richmond City Council violated the Virginia Constitution by bypassing a comprehensive public bidding process. This claim adds another dimension to the situation, which is marked by legal and public challenges. Judge Marchant, who signed the July 25 order, previously asserted that the city complied with all legal requirements.

Disputes over Bidding Process and Upcoming Vote

In court, Robertson, representing the Good Lions, criticized the Richmond City Council for reselecting Urban One without a 2021-like bidding process. On the other hand, Marks argued that a complete public bidding process was unnecessary since the casino would be on private land. Robertson disputed this, insisting that bidding is a fundamental aspect of the procedure.

The judge suggested that Good Lions might consider other legal avenues, such as an injunction. Robertson indicated that intervention was their preferred strategy, but an injunction remained a possibility. The complexity of the case continues to grow, with various legal strategies being explored.

If Richmond's casino proposal passes all legal hurdles, voters will determine its outcome in the November elections. The project, poised to create 1,300 new jobs, includes a luxury hotel, casino, entertainment venues, and a 55-acre park and promises Richmond an upfront payment of $26.5 million.

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