Richmond Casino Developer Launching Campaign Blitz to Sway November Support

Posted on: August 20, 2021, 01:07h. 

Last updated on: August 20, 2021, 02:22h.

The Richmond casino proposal will learn its fate on Nov. 2.

Richmond casino Virginia Urban One resort
ONE Casino + Resort billboard ads promote how gambling might better the Richmond community. Virginia voters in the capital city will decide the resort’s outcome this November. (Image: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Over the next 75 days, residents in the Virginia capital city will be inundated with marketing spots. The goal is trying to convince them one way or the other on how to vote on a proposed $600 million undertaking called ONE Casino + Resort. Urban One. That’s the media conglomerate that emerged from the bidding as the city’s casino development partner, and it says it’s going all-in on an ad blitz.

Urban One Executive Vice President Karen Wishart told 8News in Richmond that the company is putting up more than 75 billboards promoting the economic benefits of voting “yes.”

We are going to do everything that we can do to spread our good message,” Wishart explained.

Richmond residents have been subjected to gambling ads since the city qualified under legislation passed last year and signed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) that allows it to consider authorizing a casino. Richmond fielded six qualifying casino resort bids, with DC-based Urban One winning out.

Urban One has partnered on its Richmond casino pursuit with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment. The gaming firm operates casino resorts in New York and Iowa and runs five Rosie’s Gaming Emporium historical horse racing gaming parlors in Virginia.

Dueling Campaigns

ONE Casino + Resort, if approved on November 2 by city voters, would be built on vacant land located just south of the Philip Morris tobacco plant along I-95 at Walmsley Blvd. and Trenton Ave.

Urban One says the resort would create 3,000 construction jobs, and 1,500 permanent positions. The average pay for the full-time workers, including benefits, would be around $55,000.

While Urban One is rolling out its campaign via billboards and on television, radio, and social media, casino opposition is also getting out its voice. Richmond for All (RFA), a coalition that says its mission is “fighting for housing, education, environmental, and racial justice,” is challenging the casino motion.

RFA volunteers are going door to door trying to convince residents to vote “no” on November 2. They are also offering yard signs with a message opposing the casino for those interested in displaying.

“Casinos are an extractive industry that will rob our community just to make a few folks wealthy,” declared Quinton Robbins, RFA’s political director, who also resides in the 8th District where the casino would be built. “After canvassing for the past couple of weeks, it is clear to me that my neighbors are worried about how this casino will hurt the place that we call home.”

In anticipation of a successful vote, the City of Richmond is presently conducting a public survey asking residents how the $25.5 million upfront payment Urban One would contribute should be spent. The online survey closes on September 6.

Important Elections

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment has two major elections to keep tabs on. Along with the November 2 election in Virginia, officials at the casino company will be on the edge of their seats 11 days later on November 13 when voters in Louisiana head to their polling places.

Peninsula Pacific is hoping to build a $325 million casino resort in St. Tammany Parish’s Slidell. The company, as is the case in Richmond, needs a simple majority support on the casino ballot question to win authorization for its gaming venture.