Virginia Casino Developers Celebrate Passage of Gaming Bills, Ready to Move Forward

Posted on: April 26, 2020, 12:10h. 

Last updated on: April 24, 2020, 02:24h.

Virginia casino developers behind several proposals are rejoicing following the state’s passage of commercial gambling laws earlier this week.

Virginia casinos sports betting
As many as five Virginia casinos could be on the way. (Image: University of Virginia)

On Wednesday, the Virginia General Assembly signed off on amendments made by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to the state’s casino legislation and sports betting bill. Five areas – Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Richmond, and Norfolk – qualify to welcome one casino each to their cities.

The Pamunkey Tribe is favored to build in both Richmond and Norfolk.

“The Pamunkey Tribe thanks the Governor and the General Assembly for recognizing their right to pursue gaming and for allowing the Tribe be included in this legislation,” said Pamunkey spokesperson Jay Smith.

“This will enable the Tribe to move forward, as it looks to establish programs and services to help their Tribe and support the Commonwealth. As Native Virginians, the tribe will keep its profits in Virginia and reinvest locally – benefiting Virginians and particularly the residents in the communities its casinos will operate,” Smith added.

Colonial Downs, which operates the horse racetrack, as well as historical racing machines at the track and several off-track betting parlors under the Rosie’s Gaming Emporium brand, is also bidding for the Richmond casino.

Come November, residents in the five cities will be faced with a local ballot referendum seeking their support for the casinos. If a simple majority backs the commercial gaming venues, local governments will be able to move forward with awarding the licenses to developers.

Ready to Rock

Virginia businessmen Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy organized the campaign to end the Commonwealth’s long prohibition on gambling. Their “Betting on Bristol” drive resulted in lawmakers moving forward with casino legislation.

McGlothlin and Stacy have partnered with Hard Rock International to transform the vacant Bristol Mall into a resort named Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol.

We are very pleased that the legislation to authorize casino gambling in Virginia has been passed,” a statement read. “We look forward to receiving final approval from the citizens in Bristol later this year so that we can begin creating the jobs and economic stimulus this region so desperately needs!”

Bristol’s leaders have another proposal to consider. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and real estate developer Steve Johnson have suggested placing a casino at Johnson’s The Pinnacle shopping complex.

Chicago-based Rush Street Gaming is targeting Portsmouth, while several casino operators are developing plans for Danville.

Local Concerns

Of course, each casino project still first needs area residents to sign off on the gambling properties. Reaction to the Virginia casino and sports betting bills becoming law has been mixed.

“I honestly think that it would be good for Bristol because it would bring a lot of jobs and there are a lot of people right now, especially during this time, that needs jobs, so I think it would be a great thing for Bristol,” local Brittany Eller told television station WJHL.

On the other side of the aisle is Joseph Greco, who reached out to

Ralph Northam is completely out of his mind! How he got elected in unbelievable!” opined Greco.

Another Bristol resident, Kay Webb, added, “I am very against the casino. The casino really hurts the lifestyle of the people, and that’s what I’m really disappointed in seeing. I’m really praying that the Lord will change it around and we will not get it. But only He knows. I just love this town.”