Bally’s Ups Richmond, Virginia Stakes, Presents $650M Casino Proposal

Posted on: February 23, 2021, 09:30h. 

Last updated on: February 26, 2021, 10:19h.

Add Bally’s Corporation to the list of casino operators interested in investing in Richmond, Va. This week, officials in Richmond confirmed the interest of The Cordish Companies and another pitch from a partnership between Urban One and Colonial Downs.

Richmond casino Virginia Bally's Cordish
The Virginia State Capitol building in Richmond is pictured. The capital city is mulling four casino bids. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

So far, Bally’s is the high bidder. Yesterday, the newly formed corporate creation of the iconic casino brand presented the capital city with a $650 million build. The Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort blueprint calls for a complex spanning more than 1.6 million square feet, with a casino, sportsbook, hotel, pool, dining, retail shopping, and flexible space for entertainment and conferences.

Bally’s Richmond is targeting a 61-acre site located on the western border of Richmond in the Gravel Hill neighborhood. The $650 million total investment includes a one-time, $100 million upfront payment to the City of Richmond.

As for the casino, Bally’s Richmond plans to include approximately 2,500 slot machines, 90 table games, a 30-table poker room, a high-limit gaming area, and a VIP lounge.

Richmond’s Virginia Top Market

Last year, Virginia legalized commercial gambling for five economically troubled cities. Voters in each of those towns can decide whether to authorize a gaming resort to help their region’s economy.

Four did so last November in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. Richmond, the fifth qualifying city, opted to wait a year. Next November, Richmond voters will be presented with a specific casino plan and asked if they approve of the project through a ballot referendum.

Richmond has received the largest investment bids. Cordish’s plan is a $600 million undertaking, while the Urban One-Colonial offer comes in at $517 million.

Today, Richmond received yet another proposal. It comes from the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, which has already won the Norfolk casino rights. The tribe, which has no experience operating casinos, is building a $500 million casino there is a partnership with billionaire Jon Yarbrough. Norfolk is thought to have gone with the tribe and Yarbrough on claims that the Pamunkey have ancestral ties to the area, and therefore could pursue a tribal gaming facility if it was passed over.

The Pamunkey Tribe today presented Richmond with a casino plan that would cost $350 million. The targeted site is along I-95 just south of the Bells Road exit. The resort would feature 2,000 slot machines, 75 table games, a sportsbook, and a 300-room hotel.

Minority Key Component

All four casino bids in Richmond promise the city a positive social impact. Each developer has pledged that its ownership will include minority investors and/or companies.

In Virginia’s 2020 gaming law, one element cities are to consider when selecting a winning bid is “the proposer’s status as a minority-owned business … or the proposer’s commitment to solicit equity investment in the proposed casino gaming establishment.”