Richmond Casino Developer Needs More Time, Now Projects 2024 Opening

Posted on: July 9, 2021, 08:26h. 

Last updated on: July 9, 2021, 11:30h.

The developer of the proposed Richmond casino told the city this week that it will need additional time to open the $563 million resort.

Richmond casino Virginia Urban One
ONE Casino + Resort and its purple exterior is designed to light up Richmond, Va., along Interstate 95. But the potential project is being pushed back some nine months until 2024. (Image: Urban One)

Urban One Inc. and its fully owned operating subsidiary, RVA Entertainment Holdings LLC, informed the Richmond City Council’s Organizational Development Committee that its initial December 2023 opening target is unrealistic. The group now says October 1, 2024, is when it could have the casino resort operational. 

On November 2, voters in Richmond will decide whether to authorize the development. ONE Casino + Resort is to feature a 250-room luxury hotel, and a 100,000-square-foot casino floor with 1,800 slot machines, more than 100 table games, and sportsbook.

ONE Casino + Resort would be built on property located on Commerce Road currently owned by Philip Morris.  

Richmond Delays Vote

The Virginia Lottery was tasked with handling the licensing process for casinos under the state’s 2020 gaming legislation. The bill allowed economically distressed cities to hold ballot referendums asking residents if they want to use a casino resort as an economic stimulator. 

Four have already done so, including Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville, and Bristol. Richmond opted to delay its local vote by a year. 

If a simple majority of Richmond voters approve of the casino, the Virginia Lottery would perform a tedious, in-depth review of Urban One’s finances, major shareholders, and the corporation’s operating history. It’s a process that takes considerable time.

Leonard Sledge, the city’s economic development director, said Urban One’s timeline pushback is understandable.

The one factor that is not under our control is the Virginia Lottery,” Sledge explained. 

Urban One, a publicly traded media conglomerate, has partnered with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E) to develop ONE. P2E operates casinos in Iowa and New York, as well as the five Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in Virginia that offer historical horse racing gaming machines. 

Sledge and the Organizational Development Committee recommended to the City Council that it approve Urban One’s new casino timeline. The Council will vote on the revision on Monday, July 12. 

Millions at Stake

If Richmond voters reject the casino, the outcome will be devastating for Urban One. The company says by November, it will have spent more than $70 million on its casino ambitions. 

In May, after Urban One beat out Richmond’s two other casino finalists — bids from Bally’s Corporation and The Cordish Companies — the company’s stock price jumped. 

Traded on the Nasdaq under the ticker UONEK, the price went from $3.56 on May 19, to $4.60 the day after Richmond announced ONE Casino + Resort as its development winner. The stock has since made further gains, today trading around $5. 

If the casino is authorized, Urban One says it will sell up to $200 million in stock with voting rights. The stock will go to some 50 individuals who have expressed interest in becoming a considerable investor in the project. 

Following a successful ballot referendum, Urban One would pay the city a one-time upfront payment of $25 million for the casino license. Urban CEO Alfred Liggins III told the city this week that the company will tack on an additional $1 million if it approves the delayed schedule.