Betting on the ads: Richmond casino referendum comes to a head

Virginia Elections

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The media conglomerate behind a proposed casino in Richmond has many promises, including 1,500 new jobs and $500 million in tax revenue over a decade. But the river city is not without its own skeptics; and the voters will ultimately decide on the back of the November ballot.

An all-out advertisement campaign targeted to potential voters in the city has been thrusted into the final days before the consequential referendum.

Although voters have begun casting ballots early, before the final day to cast a vote on Nov. 2, Urban ONE is ramping up their campaign. And, so are people in opposition.

At Urban ONE’s campaign headquarters in the Manchester neighborhood, staff worked around flyers, face masks, yard signs and t shirts donned with ‘ONE’,’ and ‘Say YES’ messaging.

Although the media company did not confirm to 8News how much they’re spending to win the vote, published reports indicate the budget is between $2 and $5 million dollars.

Urban ONE CEO Alfred Liggins detailed the final play call in an interview with 8News.

“To make sure that perfect information is in the air: where it’s located, what the benefits are, there’s no city subsidies,” Liggins said.

On the flipside, local political activist Paul Goldman and his “Vote No on RVA casino” referendum committee has spent much of their $100,000 on anti-casino ads running on social media.

“We think that could reach sufficient numbers of people,” he said.

Like Urban ONE, Goldman said people with his group will be standing outside polling locations to promote their message.

“And I hope the people of Richmond realize you can vote against this casino, because it’s a bad idea…” “We need something better in Richmond,” Goldman said.

Richmonders will soon see which side comes out on top after the effort to campaign, inform and persuade.

Liggins said Urban ONE’s polling data makes him confident,”but, you don’t really know how that turns out until election day.“

Longtime civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton will visit Richmond Friday to stump for Urban ONE, and meet with local faith leaders; a sign of several more days of campaigners making their case on both sides of the poker chip.

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