Richmond Voters to Decide on $600M Casino, Project Dubbed First Black-Owned US Casino

Posted on: June 15, 2021, 10:17h. 

Last updated on: June 15, 2021, 06:28h.

Voters in Richmond, Va., will decide on Nov. 2 whether to authorize a more than $600 million integrated casino resort in the Virginia capital city.

Richmond casino Urban One Virginia
Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins addresses the Richmond City Council. This week, the council approved a ballot referendum that will ask city residents if they want to allow a casino resort in the Virginia capital. (Image: NBC12)

Last night, the Richmond City Council voted 8-1 in favor of placing a ballot referendum before voters next fall. The question will ask city residents if they favor allowing Urban One Inc. and its development partners to build a casino destination just off Interstate 95 on the city’s South Side, next to the Philip Morris plant. 

With the council’s support, a simple majority during the November 2 referendum will fully clear Urban One to proceed with the project. The casino plan, called ONE Casino + Resort, calls for 100,000 square feet of gaming space, a 250-room hotel, a 3,000-seat concert theater, and 12 bars and restaurants. 

The resort, Urban says, will result in 1,300 permanent jobs, with minimum pay of $15 per hour. The media conglomerate has also pledged a one-time $25 million upfront payment to the city, and forecasts that the resort will stimulate $5.7 billion in economic activity over its first 10 years in operation.

First Black-Owned Casino Resort

Urban One is a business that is primarily invested in media outlets focused on Black America. The company says it is “The most trusted source in the African-American community.”

Urban One is partnered with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment (P2E), an experienced casino developer and operator, for its Richmond casino ambitions. If approved by voters, Urban One says ONE Casino + Resort will make history in becoming the first Black-owned casino in the United States. 

Along with Urban One and P2E, the casino project has more than 50 minority investors, many of whom associate as racial minorities. 

Richmond is the last of five cities in Virginia that qualified to hold casino ballot referendums through a law passed in 2020. The gaming legislation allows economically distressed cities to decide whether to utilize a casino resort as a way to spur regional growth.

During the 2020 election, the four other cities easily passed the referendums. Casinos are coming to Norfolk, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Danville.

One Dissenting Vote 

Richmond councilmembers overwhelmingly favored allowed city residents to decide the fate of the ONE Casino + Resort project. 

All we are voting on tonight is to support the democratic process,” said Councilor Andreas Addison. “Let the citizens of Richmond decide,” added Councilor Michael Jones.

The lone dissenting vote came from Councilor Katherine Jordan. She represents the district where The Cordish Companies proposed building a $600 million casino resort in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood.

Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins celebrated the successful outcome of the Richmond City Council vote.

“ONE is extremely grateful and proud that Richmond City Council has voted to move forward with a first-class casino and resort in Richmond’s South Side. This project will be funded entirely with private investment and will generate millions of dollars in critically needed new tax revenue that can be used for schools, affordable housing, workforce development, infrastructure, and other city priorities,” Liggins declared.