Virginia Lawmakers Unanimously Vote to Reject Richmond as Casino Host

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Following the second rejection by Richmond voters of a casino proposal, lawmakers in Virginia have unanimously voted to remove the city from the list of possible locations for a future casino.

With bipartisan support, the Virginia General Assembly passed bills designed to remove Richmond from the list of potential host cities. The House of Delegates voted 100-0 in favor followed by the state Senate voting 40-0.

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The proposed bills, supported by lawmakers representing Richmond such as Del. Betsy Carr and state Sen. Lamont Bagby, directly respond to Richmond voters' views.

The legislation would change the state code, which lists cities such as Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth as potential casino locations, but also contains criteria that could include Richmond.

Bills Follow Two Referendum Rejections

The bills have been introduced after voters rejected the casino proposal in referendums held in both 2021 and November 2023.

Should Gov. Glenn Youngkin sign the bills into law, then it will change criteria including population size, property tax exemptions, and poverty rates to ensure that Richmond can no longer be considered as a host city.

The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service of the University of Virginia has estimated that Richmond’s population grew past 230,000 in 2018, which is beyond the threshold for eligibility. Furthermore, more than 25% of the assessed value of real estate in the city did not have to pay property taxes in the fiscal year 2018.

At the same time, discussions are taking place over whether Petersburg is eligible for a casino while plans to hold a referendum in Fairfax County have been put back to 2025. As such, it may yet be quite some time before the location of Virginia’s next casino is known.