The Richmond City Council is considering extending the previously targeted December 31, 2023 deadline for the opening of the city’s planned casino to October 1, 2024, news emerged Monday.
City officials explained that pushing back the deadline would give the casino developer more time and flexibility while waiting for a license from the Virginia Lottery.
The final terms of the casino development project are still subject to approval by the Richmond City Council. The scheme also needs approval from voters in a November 2 citywide referendum. If the casino measure passes, the Virginia Lottery would then assess the project and decide whether to license the city’s preferred casino developer.
In June, the City Council voted 8-1 to authorize the referendum for the $600 million project presented by media giant Urban One in partnership with Los Angeles-based developer Peninsula Pacific Entertainment.
Urban One plans to build One Casino + Resort on property near the intersection of Commerce Road and Walmsley Boulevard that is currently owned by Philip Morris USA. The gaming complex will feature 100,000 square feet of casino space with slot machines, table games, and a sportsbook, a 250-room hotel, a 3,000-seat theater, and 12 bars and restaurants, among other amenities.
As mentioned above, city officials previously projected that the resort would open doors by the end of 2023. However, they recently offered to extend that earlier deadline in exchange for an additional $1 million on top of the previously agreed $25 million upfront payment that Urban One has agreed to pay if the casino measure passes this coming November.
No Authority over Certification Process
Richmond City Director of Economic Development Leonard Sledge told the City Council at a meeting last week that the primary reason for the potential deadline extension is “recognizing that neither the city nor One Casino and Resort have control or autonomy over the timing of the certification process for the Virginia Lottery.”
Urban One spokesperson Mark Hubbard told local media that the company needs flexibility because the state gambling watchdog has up to 12 months to review its casino proposal and decide on whether it would grant the necessary license.
Mr. Hubbard elaborated that they plan to submit their license application no later than mid-December 2021, assuming that the casino measure passes on November 2 and that “this is a big project and there will be many moving parts along the way.”
Richmond is one of five Virginia cities that were allowed under the state’s new casino law to license Las Vegas-style gambling venues if approved by local voters, with Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Bristol being the other four.
Urban One and Richmond officials say the scheme could be a boon for the city as it would create 1,300 new jobs and potentially spur additional development in the host area. The casino complex is projected to generate $30 million in annual tax revenue for the city.
Source: Opening date of proposed South Richmond casino might not be until fall 2024, Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 12, 2021