Richmond votes against building ONE Casino + Resort

Courtesy the City of Richmond
Courtesy the City of Richmond(City of Richmond)
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 10:48 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2021 at 10:50 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond residents decided not to take a gamble on the city’s casino referendum Tuesday night.

Unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections shows 51 percent of Richmond voters chose “no” on the referendum, which is 39,824 votes. The “no” vote now leads by 1,824 votes, compared to the 37,999 Richmonders who voted “yes” on the referendum.

Developers for One Casino + Resort promised the project would be a game-changer for revenue and jobs. The location would’ve been in south Richmond, just off Interstate 95. The multi-million dollar development was going to include 100,000 square feet of casino space, a luxury hotel, a live theater and dozens of new restaurants. They also said the project would’ve brought 4,500 construction and resort jobs to the city.

On Wednesday, Cruz Sherman expressed his disappointment for the outcome.

“We lost a grand opportunity that perhaps will not prevail itself again and, if so, it could be years down the road, maybe as much as 5 to 10 years,” he said. “I’m very disappointed we did not get the referendum passed and I’m equally as disappointed that we still have underlying racial issues.”

Sherman supported plans for ONE Casino + Resort, hoping it would bring more jobs and an economic boost to the city’s Southside.

“We have massive flooding problems here and those funds would’ve been available to improve those areas that we need here in the Southside,” he said.

Quinton Robbins, political director for Richmond4All, is happy with the outcome.

“I feel extremely proud of the City of Richmond in this moment, we rejected corporate control over city government,” he said. “That makes me very excited for the future of our city.”

Those who were against the plan were worried this project would become a catalyst for gambling addiction while increasing crime in the area.

“This is an industry that preys on folks and relies on folks that have a medical condition in order to turn a profit,” Robbins said.

On the map provided by the Virginia Public Access Project, a majority of the “no” votes came from precincts on the east side and downtown areas of Richmond, while many who voted “yes” were found in the East End and Southside, which is the location developers proposed the casino to be built.

“Obviously, it’s very fascinating the way the votes geographically came from,” said Mayor Levar Stoney in an interview with NBC12 on Wednesday. “That map shows we have some divides in our city we have to work on.”

Stoney said he’s mostly disappointed by the thousands of jobs lost with this vote, but believes the focus needs to continue on economic development.

“We will not be detered when it comes to economic growth and economic development and empowerment as well,” Stoney said. “I’m all in and when you’re in the arena, you have to be all in.”

This morning, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also released the following statement:

“From the beginning, we said the people would decide. They have spoken, and we must respect their decision.

While I believe this was a $565 million opportunity lost to create well-paying jobs, expand opportunity, keep taxes low and increase revenue to meet the needs of our growing city, I am proud of the transparent and public process we went through to listen to our residents and put this opportunity before our voters.

I’m deeply appreciative to the members of our economic development team who negotiated this project and to Richmond City Council, which overwhelmingly supported it. Finally, I’d like to thank Cathy Hughes, Alfred Liggins and the entire Urban One Team for being willing to commit to, and invest in, our city. They believe in Richmond, as do we. Rest assured, this administration will not be deterred from its ongoing mission to bring other economic development opportunities to our city that will benefit the lives of all who live here.”

Alfred Liggins, Urban One CEO released the following statement:

“While extremely disappointed, our entire Urban One family, my mother and business partner Cathy Hughes, and I accept the will of city of Richmond residents. For the last two years, we have worked so hard to build a large and inclusive tent with our ONE Casino + Resort project. We had a lot of loyal supporters who worked tirelessly on behalf of this project and for whom we will be eternally grateful. We ran a robust campaign and strongly believe this is a huge missed opportunity for Richmond residents to have a tourist attraction that would have provided the financial resources to improve schools and roads as well as enrich the lives of its citizens. Urban One has been a part of the fabric of Richmond for the last twenty-two years, and we will continue our tradition of serving the community.”

Richmond was the last of five Virginia cities to vote on a casino. Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth all passed casino referendums last November by large margins.

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