Richmond Casino Race: The city could welcome the nation’s only black-owned casino

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Richmond is moving forward with plans to bring a resort-style casino to the River City. Four companies are now in the running to spearhead the multi-million dollar project.

On Tuesday morning, Urban One held a media event to announce their 517 million dollar proposal.
Urban One caters to the African American demographic and is hoping to transform the city’s southside with world-class entertainment, dining and gaming destination. Urban One is a black-owned media company and owns TV One and dozens of radio stations, including IPower 92.1, KISS-FM, and ESPN Radio in Richmond.

If Urban One’s proposal is selected and approved, the land currently owned by Altria, at the intersection of Walmsey Boulevard and Commerce Road, off of I-95, would be home to the only black-owned casino in the United States.

“Our proposal is unparalleled and can not be matched,” said Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins. “We would be creating the only black-owned casino in the United States of America. Perhaps more importantly, our project will be very diverse and inclusive.”

Liggins stood next to his colleagues and business partners on Tuesday to unveil plans for One Casino Resort. The $517 million project would include 150 luxurious hotel rooms, a 3,000 person capacity theater, broadcast production studios for both film and radio, 12 restaurants and bars, 20,000 feet of event space, and 50 acres of green space that will include bike trails, playgrounds and food trucks.

One Casino Resort will also include a massive gaming facility complete with slots and table games. 8News has learned that the casino is expected to have 100 gaming tables including black jack, craps, roulette and poker; as well as 1,800 slot machines.

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, the company that currently operates Rosies Gaming Emporium on Midlothian Turnpike, will be running the new casino.

“ONE will create more than 1,400 jobs and generate more than $47 million in tax revenue. This money will be available for critically important Richmond projects and initiatives including schools and affordable housing and we will achieve these numbers with a workforce that looks like Richmond.”

Liggins expressed on Tuesday that Urban One has been in the Richmond community for more than three decades and the focus of this project will be using local resources to create a sense of community. Officials have already secured local restaurants such as Mama J’s, Southern Kitchen, and Perch, as well as community investors like radio host Clovia ‘Community Clo’ Lawrence and Johnny Newman, former NBA and University of Richmond basketball star.

“I love Richmond and this is a good opportunity for the city,” Newman told 8News. “For years I’ve been trying to get entertainment opportunities in the basketball field.”

Despite Tuesday morning’s press conference, the city’s deadline for all interested parties to submit proposals was Monday, February 23. Urban One is not the only company vying for the investment deal; three other companies have submitted proposals to the city.

“It’s going to be a very competitve process,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said.

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe has proposed a casino and resort with 100% minority ownership in the city’s southside near the Bells Road exit off I-95. The Tribe’s proposed resort and casino would feature a 300-room, Four Diamond, full-service hotel with commensurate facilities, services and amenities. It includes a spa and fitness center, rooftop pool, and several fine dining and fast casual restaurants. It will also have conference rooms, multiple entertainment areas for shows and concerts and a casino with 75 table games, 2,000 slot machines and a sports book.

“The Tribe couldn’t be more excited about this proposal to bring world-class gaming and entertainment to Richmond,” said Robert Gray, Pamunkey Indian Tribe chief. “We are committed to the community and will reinvest into the City to make it even stronger.”

Bally’s Corporation is looking to invest more than 600 million dollars into a casino-resort near the Powhite and Chippenham Parkways. Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort,” is described as a world-class destination resort, hotel and casino. The project will include a casino, sports book, hotel, resort-style pool, dining and retail outlets, and a flexible space for live entertainment and conferences.

The corporation says construction is expected to take approximately 18 months, with an anticipated opening in 2024 and are looking to foster opportunities to partner with minority-owned businesses.

Also in the running for the casino race is Cordish Companies, which is associated with the Hard Rock chain. The company is proposing a casino in the Scotts Addition neighborhood at the intersection of Arthur Ashe Blvd and West Leigh Street. Cordish has developed other casino entertainment resorts in the U.S., including Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland, Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia, Live! Casino Pittsburgh, etc.

The project includes a 250,000 square foot casino; a luxury hotel with approximately 300 guest rooms and 30 suites; upscale spa and fitness facilities; a 4,000-capacity live entertainment venue; 40,000 square feet of multi-use event space; and 18 restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

During a zoom call on Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Stoney said it would be ‘monumental’ if a black-owned casino came to the city, however the process needs to play out and there are several steps to go.

As of Monday afternoon, all proposals have been submitted. The city will now seek consultation from an outside firm for recommendations, eventually deciding on one company by this summer.
City officials tell 8News there will be plenty of public comment opportunities and likely in November, Richmond residents will vote on the casino via a referendum on the ballot.

This is a developing story, stay with 8News for updates.

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