Petersburg Casino Bill Returns to Virginia General Assembly on Governor’s Action

Posted on: April 8, 2024, 08:01h. 

Last updated on: April 8, 2024, 09:45h.

The Petersburg casino bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly is returning to the legislature after Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) amended the statute, which seeks to qualify the city for a casino license.

Petersburg casino Glenn Younkin Virginia
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has amended the Petersburg casino bill and returned the statute to the legislature. The General Assembly next month will consider the governor’s request that the reenactment clause be removed. (Image: NPR)

Youngkin opted to amend Senate Bill 628 rather than vetoing it. The governor took issue with the legislation’s inclusion of a reenactment clause. The provision would have required the House of Delegates and Senate to vote again on allowing Petersburg to be allocated a gaming permit from the Virginia Lottery Board.

The redundancy clause was to confirm that lawmakers indeed wished to allow the Richmond casino concession, which city voters twice voted against, to relocate about 25 miles south to Petersburg. The reenactment provision was tacked on to Sen. Lashrecse Aird’s (D-Petersburg) legislation while being considered in the House.

The thinking is that a revote on the matter would allow state lawmakers to more fully consider the possible impacts of allowing a casino in Petersburg. The legislature passed over 1,000 bills during the 2024 legislation that ended on March 9.

Amendment Embraced 

Aird and other state senators who supported SB628 hoped Youngkin would take this action on the Petersburg casino statute. Her colleagues in the upper chamber went along with the House’s reenactment clause with the belief that the governor would take the precise action he did.

With the removal of the reenactment clause, this legislation moves closer to final approval to allow Petersburg to obtain the fifth and final license,” Aird said in a statement.

Because Youngkin amended the casino bill and didn’t veto it, only a simple majority of the House and Senate need to sign off on the governor’s change. If Youngkin had vetoed the bill, a two-thirds majority would have been needed to override the veto.

The Virginia General Assembly returns to the Richmond capital on April 17 to consider the governor’s legislative actions. If SB628 gains the simple majority required to approve the governor’s modifications, the bill is enacted and the Petersburg City Council would be allowed to proceed with finding its preferred casino developer.

Referendum Process

The odds appear strong that Petersburg will be given a chance to consider a casino resort. The city council in February proactively began the process by opening a Request for Proposal period for interested developers.

City officials are seeking pitches that include a casino, a minimum of 500 hotel rooms graded at four or five stars, several restaurants and bars, retail shopping, and entertainment space.

City leaders say only recognizable casino brands need to apply. Interested developers should be willing to pay at least $60 million in an immediate one-time access fee to the city upon receiving the state-issued gaming license.  

Bidders would also be smart to make pledges assuring city officials that minority- and women-owned businesses will be given preference when picking vendors and suppliers.

Once the casino resort scheme is picked, the casino blueprint will go before Petersburg voters in November. If a simple majority votes “yes” on the development, the project would be cleared to move forward and the Virginia Lottery Board would be allowed to issue the development the gaming license.