Petersburg City Council Opens Casino Request for Proposal Period

Posted on: February 14, 2024, 01:59h. 

Last updated on: February 14, 2024, 12:40h.

The Petersburg City Council this week opened a Request for Proposal (RFP) period for the development of a possible casino resort.

The City of Petersburg has begun its Request for Proposal period for a possible casino resort. The Virginia Senate recently passed legislation to designate Petersburg for a casino. (Image: City of Petersburg)

The Virginia Senate last week passed Senate Bill 628. The legislation, introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and Sen. Lashrecse Aird (D-Petersburg), seeks to qualify Petersburg as a casino host location. SB 628 breezed through the upper chamber and now moves to the House of Delegates where the odds are thought to be good that the statute will secure additional support.

Petersburg councilors on Monday formally opened the city’s RFP for a “Destination Resort.” The “comprehensive economic development project” is to include a “destination resort, real estate development, retail, event venue, and casino.”

The RFP was initiated through a resolution that the seven-person council unanimously approved. Interested developers are encouraged to respond to the RFP before March 18 at 10 a.m. EST.

The council’s resolution justified the RFP because tax revenue from such a gaming resort could be used to benefit local education, infrastructure, health, recreation, public safety, parks, and other community wealth-building initiatives.

City Thanks State Lawmakers

State legislation passed in 2020 authorized five cities to weigh a commercial casino. Successful casino referendums were held in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Danville. Voters in Richmond, the fifth city, twice rejected a casino pitch in 2021 and 2023.

The Petersburg City Council has been trying to gain the right to ask their residents if they want to allow a casino resort in the town since the first Richmond referendum. While the legislature gave Richmond time for a second referendum, November’s second defeat has led to state lawmakers getting behind a new host city for the fifth and final casino license.

With Richmond’s casino prospects all but null, state lawmakers like the idea of qualifying Petersburg for slot machines, table games, and sports betting.

Senator Lashrecse Aird, the bill’s chief patron alongside Senator Louise Lucas, has played a pivotal role in advocating for Petersburg’s inclusion as a host city in General Assembly legislation. This legislative milestone reflects the collaborative efforts between Petersburg officials and Senator Aird in advancing the bill and encouraging community engagement and support,” the Petersburg City Council said in a statement.

“The legislation grants Petersburg residents the right to vote via a referendum for this major economic development opportunity for the City,” the statement added.

RFP Details

The Petersburg RFP comes with numerous guidelines and recommendations. The development “must include” a casino, a minimum of 500 hotel rooms graded at four stars, dining and drinking establishments, retail shopping, and an entertainment venue.

The city is only seeking to work with a “recognized casino brand” with a record of financial success and sustainability. Councilors would prefer the hotel component to feature two distinct offerings from established hoteliers.

RFP respondents are to propose possible sites for the development. The city is also seeking an upfront fee of $60 million upon the partnership between Petersburg and the developer being established.

The RFP also encourages potential developers to make assurances to give preference to minority- and women-owned businesses when picking vendors and suppliers. The city asks the developers to also guarantee that a certain percentage of the resort’s workforce goes to Petersburg residents.