Activists make last effort to win over voters ahead of casino vote Tuesday


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Richmond residents are three days away from learning whether a casino will be built on the Southside of the city.

Saturday, leaders for and against the idea made final efforts to win over voters before the referendum appears on the ballot Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Saturday is the last day Richmonders could vote early on whether or not the ONE Casino + Resort will come to Richmond, and activists made sure to get out the vote.

“We’re in like the last leg of this relay race, so we’re going to make it happen,” Cruz Sherman, CEO of Cruz Media Inc. told 8News in an interview Saturday.

Leaders on both sides of the aisle held rallies Saturday. Those for the One Casino + Resort held a rally at the Satellite Restaurant and Lounge on Richmond Highway Saturday afternoon. Those against the referendum held a rally in opposition to the casino and resort near the Arthur Ashe statue on Monument Avenue Saturday afternoon.

Those in opposition of the casino, like Reverend Allan-Charles Chipman, said the casino would rob working people of their livelihood, possibly draining money from its poorest residents.

“A vote for no is a vote for that no, we are not going to ensnare some of our city in order to enrich another part of our city,” he said at the rally Saturday.

Karen Wishart, with Urban One, said if anything, the opposite would happen, promising that 60% of jobs created will go to Richmonders and 50% of those jobs will go to minority populations.

“It’s all about economic empowerment. 3,000 construction jobs, 1,500 permanent jobs, all coming to the city of Richmond,” Wishart told 8News.

However, 3rd district school board member Kenya Gibson isn’t so sure the casino would benefit anybody, calling the project an exploitive endeavor. She said there are other ways to boost Richmond’s economic development.

“Richmond is not Atlantic City. Richmond is not Las Vegas. Richmond is about history. Richmond is about the arts. Richmond is about thriving small businesses,” she said.

Sherman said the economic impact the casino might make would be tremendous.

“The casino is going to be a benefit to Southside and to Richmond as a whole,” Sherman said.

Recently, Senator Tim Kaine voted against the proposal, saying there are better ways to enhance economic development in Richmond.

Mayor Levar Stoney has openly supported the casino, saying it would help give money to schools, affordable housing, among other needs. Investors in the casino project have been major donors to Stoney’s campaigns in 2016 and 2020.

For Richmonders, the referendum will be on the back of the ballot Tuesday.

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