Caesars Entertainment Virginia Casino Plan Approved by Danville City Council

Posted on: September 3, 2020, 11:34h. 

Last updated on: September 3, 2020, 01:06h.

Caesars Entertainment’s development agreement with Danville promises a bounty of economic benefits for the Virginia city.

Caesars Entertainment Virginia casino Danville
The former Dan River textile complex in Virginia could soon become home to a Caesars Entertainment casino. (Image: Southside Central)

This week, the Danville City Council signed off on an agreement with the Las Vegas casino company that will bring the distressed region a $400 million capital investment, 1,300 permanent jobs, and millions of dollars in annual tax revenue.

In the so-called “performance agreement,” Caesars pledges to build a casino resort with 300 four-star guestrooms, numerous restaurants, a 35,000-square-foot convention center, a 2,500-seat theater, plus a pool and spa.

Caesars says it will employ 1,300 full-time workers, with a minimum hourly wage of $15. During construction, 900 jobs will be needed.

Solid Bet

Danville was one of five cities that qualified for a casino resort through the passage of an economic stimulator bill signed by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) earlier this year. But before Caesars can break ground, local voters need to back a ballot referendum during the November 3 election.

Should a simple majority support legalizing commercial gambling in their city, the Caesars project will be fully cleared. Caesars would have 30 days from the passage of the referendum to pay the city a one-time, $15 million fee.

Under the contract Caesars and the Danville City Council signed this week, the casino guarantees to pay the city a minimum of $5 million each year in gaming revenue taxes. Caesars expects that figure to be much larger, in the neighborhood of $22 million, by its third year in operation.

The resort is also expected to generate $4.2 million in annual money for Danville by way of property, meals, and hotel occupancy taxes. Jones said the influx of taxes will be dedicated to reducing violent crime, supporting education, and promoting Danville as a place to visit and call home.

Site Repurposing

If the ballot referendum passes, Caesars will pay $5 million to purchase the former site of the Dan River Mills Schoolfield complex on West Main Street.

Schoolfield was an independent town founded by Dan River Inc. in 1903. The City of Danville annexed it in 1951.

Dan River Inc. was a textile mill company. Following the Civil War, textiles were the lifeblood of Danville for more than a century.

Dan River was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1959, and sales surged to $173 million that year. Dan River expanded into the carpet and velour business in the 1960s and denim in the 70s and 80s with jean giant Levi Strauss.

Corporate raider Carl Icahn, who has a long history of taking over bankrupt casinos, began buying up considerable shares of Dan River in the early 1980s. Assuming that the billionaire would look to sell its assets to the highest bidder, something then-Dan River CFO Rodney Reynolds said would be “bad for the Danville community,” workers and area residents borrowed $150 million to pay off stockholders — including Icahn.

Burdened with debt, which prevented the company from changing its business model to better compete with global competitors, primarily those in Asia, Dan River went bankrupt after its largest customer,  Kmart did so in 2002.

The last Dan River production facility closed in 2007.