Virginia: Developers unveil new design, name for Richmond casino project ahead of second referendum

A week after a judge ruled in favor of the City of Richmond’s petition to hold another casino referendum on this year’s ballot, developers Urban One and Churchill Downs presented a new design and a new name for the proposed casino in Richmond’s southside. Early voting for the November 7 elections starts on September 22

According to local media, the casino project will now be a joint venture between Urban One, a Black-owned media company; and horse racing and gaming company Churchill Downs. The new proposal for the $562 million resort, casino, and entertainment venue was unveiled on August 31, with all new details on what the project would entail.

The project includes 250 hotel rooms; resort-style amenities such as a luxury spa, fitness center, outdoor pool, and cabanas; a 55-acre park for events; a high-end gaming floor with card games, slot machines, poker, blackjack, and craps; and a 3,000-seat concert venue.

The resort will also feature fine dining options including local restaurants, breweries and suppliers from Richmond’s food scene; film and audio production facilities; amd event space for conventions, sporting events, trade associations and faith communities

Alfred Liggins, CEO of Urban One, said that since the last casino was voted down, his team shifted its strategy to get the project approved by voters. “I know that last go around, we bought every billboard in the entire city, and it was probably annoying,” Liggins said, as reported by NBC12. “The problem is we should have been talking to more people instead of advertising to more people.”

According to Liggins, the changes to the design, including the name, with the resort now called Richmond Grand, came from what the community wanted to see. “We’ve done a lot of surveys about what people want from a project like this in terms of amenities,” he noted. “We’ve done a lot of surveys about what people want the funds to be used for.”

The proposed casino project is anticipated to bring about 1,300 jobs to the region that “average $55,000 in annual compensation and benefits” and “thousands of union jobs during construction.”

Other estimates of what the project could bring, according to supporters, include $30 million tax revenue annually, an immediate investment of $26.5 million in the City of Richmond, $16 million in charitable contributions over the course of 10 years, 225.000 tourists each year, $325,000 investment in equitable transit options annually, $25 million in free advertising over the course of 10 years, and $50 million in television, film, and audio production over the course of 10 years.

Richmond Grand will offer something for everyone—incredible shows, exciting gaming and entertainment, outdoor recreation, luxurious spas and pools, and a huge addition of jobs and tax revenue for the city. This is a plan by Richmond, for Richmond, and when we vote yes, all of Richmond wins,” the CEO added.

Richmond was among five Virginia cities that were included in new legislation in 2019 that allowed voters to decide if they wanted casino gambling. Of the five cities, Richmond was the only one where voters rejected a casino project when it was first put on the ballot.