RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Richmond voters are evenly divided on whether they want a casino in the city, new polling obtained by 8News shows.

A poll of 914 likely Richmond voters conducted Oct. 23-25 found 49% said they would vote yes or would likely vote yes and that 52% said they would vote no or were likely to vote no on the city’s casino referendum — a difference within the survey’s margin of error of +/- 3.23 percentage points. (Results don’t add up to 100% due to rounding)

Richmond has continued to push for a casino since having its dreams dashed by voters in 2021. The Richmond City Council approved a proposal in June for a $562 million casino development in South Richmond that, like two years ago, will ultimately be decided by voters.

The new poll, conducted by the national polling firm co/efficient on behalf of an undisclosed public affairs firm, comes as early ballots are being cast ahead of Election Day on Nov. 7.

When shown the question that will ultimately be on the ballot, participants were asked how they would vote if the election were held today. (Results don’t add up to 100% due to rounding):

  • 39% would definitely vote yes
  • 10% would likely vote yes
  • 9% would likely vote no
  • 43% would definitely vote no

The results mirror those from a Founders Insight poll conducted in September – which also commissioned co/efficient – that found voters split 44%-44%, with 12% unsure, on the Richmond casino question.

Ryan Munce, co/efficient’s president, told 8News that the results were weighted to a likely general election turnout and stratified to ensure it “had appropriate participation from both sides of the 2021 vote.”

Of those polled in the new survey, 45% said they voted for the casino proposal in 2021, 46% said they voted against it and 10% said they weren’t sure, or they didn’t vote two years ago. While most respondents stuck with how they voted in 2021, both sides lost supporters in the new poll.

Seven percent of people who said they voted for the casino in 2021 said they would definitely not vote for it this year, and 2% said they would likely vote no on the referendum. Ten percent of people who voted no in 2021 said they would either definitely vote yes (5%) or were likely to vote yes (5%) on the proposal.

While polls may show a close race, the gap in the cash being spent by the pro-casino and anti-casino sides isn’t comparable.

The pro-casino committee — Richmond Wins, Vote Yes – has raised more than $8.4 million and spent $6 million from August to the end of September, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. VPAP shows the anti-casino committee — No Means No Casino — has spent nearly all of the more than $260,000 it has raised from late July to the end of September.

The developers behind the Richmond casino referendum were not involved in the poll, a spokesperson told 8News. The Democratic activist leading the anti-casino campaign, Paul Goldman, did not respond to a call or texts requesting comment Monday. 

Half of the poll’s respondents live in the 78th Virginia House District, which includes parts of the city’s west end, southwest and central districts.

Thirty-four percent live in the 79th district, which includes the South Richmond district where the proposed casino would be built if approved by voters. Seventeen percent live in the 77th district, which includes Richmond’s southwest and south-central districts.

According to the poll, 41% of respondents said they voted in the last four general elections, 24% said they voted in the last three, 16% said the last two and 10% said they voted in the last general election. Eight percent said they didn’t vote in the last four general elections.

The poll was conducted Oct. 23-25 through landline interviews and mobile text responses and has a margin of error of +/- 3.23 percentage points. Results don’t add up to 100% due to rounding.