t least four major casino resort projects have been proposed in the City of Richmond, Virginia as of the Monday afternoon deadline for its request for proposals.
The city hasn’t said yet how many proposals it received, but aspiring casino developers have announced four projects, including one by The Cordish Companies on the Movieland property in Scott’s Addition, another by Bally’s Corporation next to Powhite Parkway and Chippenham Parkway, and two along Commerce Road by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and a partnership between Colonial Downs and media company Urban One Inc. State law allows the city to have a single casino, so the city will select its preferred operator.
All of the developers are making pointed pitches for minority investments in their projects, with at least three NFL Hall of Famers among the investors, and the only Indian tribe with gaming rights in Virginia picking a new site for its proposed casino in South Richmond, as reported by Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The Cordish Companies' project includes a $600 million casino resort proposed on the 17-acre Movieland property. It includes a hotel with 300 rooms and 30 suites, a 4,000-seat entertainment venue and 250,000 square feet of gaming space, 40,000 square feet of multiuse event space; and 18 restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. The Maryland developer already operates casinos under the Live! brand in Baltimore; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; and Tampa and Hollywood, Fla. One of its investors is former NFL star defensive lineman Bruce Smith, a Virginia Beach businessman.
The $650 million investment by Bally’s Corp. is on a 61-acre property at the northeast quadrant of the Powhite and Chippenham parkways in South Richmond. It includes a 1.6 million casino with a sportsbook, 2,500 slot machines and 90 gaming tables, a 250-room hotel, a 3,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor pool, dining and retail outlets. The proposal would include a one-time $100 million payment to the city of Richmond. The company estimates it would create 2,000 jobs and annually generate 3.7 million visitors and $415 million in total gross revenue. The project’s investors include two former NFL greats — linebacker Willie Lanier and defensive back Darrell Green. Strategic partners also include Warren Thompson, founder, president and chairman of the board of Thompson Hospitality Corp.
A $517 million project will be formally announced on Tuesday by Urban One, a Washington media company with radio stations in Richmond, and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, the Los Angeles-based owner of Colonial Downs racetrack and Rosie’s gaming emporiums. Their resort would be on property now owned by Philip Morris USA at Commerce Road and Walmsley Boulevard. Urban One would be the majority investor in what it says would be the only majority Black-owned casino in the country.
The $350 million project proposed by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe is in the 5000 block of Commerce Road, about 4 miles south of the property it originally proposed 13 months ago, which is next to South Richmond neighborhoods that opposed the plan. The project would include a 300-room hotel and casino with 2,000 slot machines, 75 table games and a sportsbook, four-diamond hotel tower with a spa, pool, fitness center and several restaurants. The tribe anticipates the project would create 1,910 permanent jobs, as well as 5.3 million annual visitors, up from an earlier estimate of 4 million. The tribe is also preparing to begin construction on a casino in Norfolk later this year.
"We continued to look at every possible site throughout the city, and we came across this site the city has been trying to develop for years,” said Jay Smith, spokesman for the tribe. The Pamunkey tribe “expects to be the only casino proposal with 100% minority ownership and 100% based in Virginia,” Smith said. “This is the ‘home team’s’ proposal.”
The applications were submitted before a deadline Monday in response to the city’s request for proposals to build a casino resort under a state law enacted last year that legalizes casino gambling in Richmond and four other cities. Voters in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville and Bristol already have approved proposed projects in those cities, but the state law adopted last year gives Richmond an additional year to choose a casino developer and project to submit to voters for approval.
A spokesman for Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Monday that the city will release the names and all proposed sites within the next week or so. The city recently announced that an evaluation panel that includes two City Council members and seven administration officials will review the proposals with support from an outside consulting firm and make recommendations to Stoney.
The Richmond City Council will then vote on a recommended operator and location, paving the way for a local referendum in the fall.