Fairfax Casino Opponents in Virginia Urge County Supervisors to Join Campaign

Posted on: June 21, 2024, 12:48h. 

Last updated on: June 21, 2024, 12:48h.

Opponents of allowing a commercial casino resort in Virginia’s Tysons in the Washington, D.C., metro are hoping to attract the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to their cause.

Fairfax casino Tysons resort
Fairfax community members opposed to efforts to bring a casino to the Virginia county hold a rally. The “No Casino Coalition” is calling on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to write its state lawmakers to oppose the gaming push in 2025 should one arise. (Image: No Casino Coalition)

A grassroots group of Fairfax County residents behind the “No Casino Coalition” says the fight is not over to prevent a casino from coming to Tysons. Though state efforts in the Richmond capital to designate Fairfax as a qualified host county for a casino failed this year, the coalition says talks could resume during the 2025 legislative session.

Each year, Virginia counties prepare legislative agendas that they submit to their state representatives in Richmond. “No Casino Coalition” members want to make sure the Fairfax government stresses its opposition to a casino.

The casino issue is not dead,” Sally Horn, a member of the group, said during a meeting of the Sully District Council of Citizens Associations last week. Her comments were first reported by the Fairfax Times.

The “No Casino Coalition” website says it has the support of 12 homeowners associations and local municipalities. They include the Clarks Crossing Homes Association, Fairfax Federation of Citizens Association, Great Falls Citizens Association, Greater Tysons Citizens Coalition, Mason District Council, McClean Citizens Association, McClean Hunt Homeowners Association, Reston Citizens Association, Shouse Village Community Association, Sully District Council, Vienna Council, and Western Fairfax County Citizens Association.

County Supervisors Petitioned 

“No Casino Coalition” is asking the Fairfax Supervisors to write the state lawmakers, specifically state Sen. David Marsden (D-Fairfax) who spearheaded the 2024 casino effort, asking them to oppose casino legislation. Such a plea would likely be well received, as a majority of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in January said they opposed Marsden’s casino push.

County Chair Jeff McKay told the public during a meeting that the supervisors were kept out of Marsden’s politicking, which he was orchestrating with regional real estate firms Comstock Companies and Clemente Development. Both entities are controlled by members of the Clemente family.

“What happened is that people in a vacuum worked on a plan and went to Richmond without coordinating with Fairfax County,” McKay said at the time. “None of those groups have come formally, sat down with us and asked, ‘Hey, here’s what we’re proposing. Will Fairfax County engage in conversation with us?'”

Casino Proponents Urge Diversification 

Fairfax County and Tysons where Marsden proposed allowing Comstock/Clemente to develop a casino on the site of a former auto dealership along Route 7 relies heavily on office real estate to prop up the economy. However, much of the area’s vast commercial real estate has remained vacant since COVID-19.

Marsden says that’s leading to reduced property valuations of the office complexes and lower property tax income for the county. Marsden believes to continue the quality of life that attracts many businesspeople from D.C. to the Virginia suburbs, homeowners could be put on the hook to make up those tax losses.

It’s a position shared by state Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), who is the majority leader of the Democratic Party.

There’s a real need to try to figure out a way to help plug the property tax hole that’s going to happen,” Surovell said in January. “If we want good schools, the burden of offsetting tax revenue is going to fall on homeowners. The county needs more revenue sources.”