Live! Casino & Hotel Virginia plan

Virginia: NFL legend Bruce Smith joins Cordish in $1.4 billion proposal for Petersburg casino project

Reading time 2:29 min

Bruce Smith Enterprise, led by legendary NFL Hall of Fame member and Virginia native Bruce Smith, has joined The Cordish Companies in its competitive bid for the casino proposal put forth by the City of Petersburg, Virginia.

The collaboration comes in response to a request for proposals issued by the city. Their project includes plans to codevelop a $1.4 billion Live! Gaming & Entertainment District, anchored by Live! Casino & Hotel Virginia.

The proposed project is expected to generate billions of dollars in economic benefits and spinoff development, create thousands of new jobs and benefits to the local community, and become a major new tourist destination for the City and the Central Virginia region, the companies said in a statement.

The proposed site is situated at the intersection of Wagner Road and Interstate I-95 with easy access on and off the East Coast's major north-south interstate. The parties propose to open an initial first-phase casino within a year.

Besides The Cordish-Bruce Smith combo, five other companies are vying for this project including Bally’s Corp.; Penn Entertainment; Rush Street Gaming; and The Warrenton Group.

Their plans hinge on a piece of legislation awaiting action by the Virginia General Assembly. Virginia State Senate Bill 628 seeks to swap Richmond with Petersburg on the list of cities eligible to host a casino, paving the path for a casino referendum to take place in Petersburg.

However, a last-minute addition by the House of Delegates inserted a reenactment clause into the bill's language. This clause mandates that the next year's General Assembly must reconsider and vote on the bill once again before Petersburg can proceed with a referendum vote. Such a provision would effectively postpone the casino development in Petersburg by at least a year.

Governor Glenn Youngkin intervened by removing the reenactment clause and returning the bill to the legislature for further consideration. The legislature is set to vote on his amended bills on April 17. If the General Assembly decides to keep the bill unchanged, Petersburg will likely hold a referendum this fall.

"I have spent significant time in Petersburg talking with students and the community at large. I've had the opportunity to hear first-hand their stories of hardship, and I understand the struggle and the enormous challenges they face. Working as a developer in the state for over 20 years, I'm confident that Bruce Smith Enterprise and The Cordish Companies are the right partners for this undertaking," Bruce Smith said.

"Together we can do remarkable work in Petersburg that will transform lives, restore hope, and ultimately imbue a new energy of revitalization that will be felt for generations. Our proposal represents a historic opportunity to prioritize the Petersburg community and put Virginians first," 

As per the companies, the project will create 7,500 new jobs including 6,000 construction jobs and 1,500 new living-wage jobs averaging $70,000 in annual compensation.

The initial phase would feature:
•    1,000 slot machines
•    23 live action table games
•    A dedicated 15 table poker room
•    Casino bar and casual restaurant
•    Over 1,500 free guest and team member parking spots

Upon completion, the resort destination would feature:
•    More than 400,000 square feet of first-class gaming, hotel and dining space
•    35,000 square feet of meeting and convention space
•    An upscale 200-room hotel featuring 20 suites, resort pool and fitness center
•    1,600 slot machines
•    46 live action table games, including a 15-table poker room
•    High limit slot and table areas and a sportsbook
•    A 3,000-seat entertainment venue for top talent from across Virginia and the greater region, as well as for meetings, conventions and social gatherings
•    8 entertainment options, including 3 spaces that will be reserved for local Petersburg restauranteurs and businesses
•    Free surface parking

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