RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Richmond’s casino dreams have been crushed again by the city’s voters.
Two years after a proposal to bring a casino to Richmond’s Southside was narrowly rejected, voters overwhelmingly defeated a proposal for a $562 million development in the same area.
The proposed project, known as the Richmond Grand Resort and Casino, was backed by Mayor Levar Stoney and other city leaders. The developers spent nearly $10 million on the pro-casino campaign, an unprecedented amount on a voter referendum.
The backers of the proposed project conceded defeat just before 9 p.m. Tuesday. The state’s elections page shows a more than 15,000-vote gap between opposition and support for the proposal — far wider than in 2021 when the gap was just under 1,500.
“We are proud to have run a community-centered campaign to create more opportunities for residents of this great city to rise into the middle class,” the casino developers said in a statement. “We are grateful to the thousands of Richmonders who voted for good jobs and a stronger city, especially those in Southside who poured their hearts into this project.”
The proposal would have brought a $562 million casino development to a site off Interstate 95 in Richmond’s Southside. The proposed project’s developers, a team made up of Urban One and Churchill Downs, said it would have brought 1,300 permanent jobs.
The Democratic activist who led an anti-casino campaign, Paul Goldman, said voters made it clear that “you can’t build a new city on old resentments.”
“For too long, the politics of Richmond has been controlled by politicians and their allies who put their own self interest before the public interest,” Goldman said in a statement. “Today the people of Richmond said clearly those days are over.”
Richmond’s casino vote was the most-watched in a city with mostly uncontested races on the ballot. The pro-casino side faced backlash after a temporary radio host for an Urban One station in Richmond leveled antisemitic attacks on Goldman.
Stoney, who condemned the antisemitic slurs directed at Goldman, said he would work to bring more affordable child care options to the city. The city said revenue from the proposed project would have been dedicated to child care efforts.
“I will continue to be a voice for communities that have been historically overlooked and underserved,” Stoney said in a statement. “I will work for more accessible and affordable child care, for good paying jobs, and for an abundance of opportunities for ALL Richmonders – no matter their zip code or socioeconomic status.”
8News relies on The Associated Press for calls on state legislative races and local ballot questions. All election results are unofficial until certified by the state Board of Elections.