The Collegian
Thursday, February 29, 2024

Richmond voters say casi-NO to the casino

<p>Graphic design Helen Mei.&nbsp;</p>

Graphic design Helen Mei. 

Richmond City voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposed construction of a $562 million casino in Southside Richmond, exceeding the initial expectations of what was expected to be a close race. 

The referendum asked voters to decide whether to allow companies Urban One and Churchill Downs to construct a casino at 2001 Walmsley Blvd. and 4700 Trenton Ave. in south Richmond.

The casino referendum was expected to be one of the most competitive races this year, with polls from late October showing a tight race with 52% voting against building the casino. With more than 90% of votes reported, over 60% of voters rejected the project. 

Proponents, such as Mayor Levar Stoney, argued that the casino would have brought new jobs and development to the city and sought to use funds to expand access to education and childcare in Richmond. 

“I will continue to be a voice for communities that have been historically overlooked and underserved,” Stoney said in a media release.

The campaign in opposition of the casino, No Means No Casino, argued that voters should have rejected the referendum not just because of the construction of a casino, but rather to respect the democratic will of the people, according to its campaign website. “Reintroducing a rejected proposal undermines our democracy and erodes trust in local governance,” according to the website.

Richmond Wins, Vote Yes, which is funded by the casino developers, was the primary campaign supporting the project. The campaign expressed pride in having run a campaign to create opportunities for Richmond residents to rise to the middle class, according to its media release. 

“We are grateful to the thousands of Richmonders who voted for good jobs and a stronger city, especially those in the Southside who poured their hearts into this project,” the campaign said in a statement. 

In 2021, voters narrowly rejected a similar proposal for constructing a casino in Southside Richmond. In that referendum, 51% of voters opted to reject the proposal. 

Voters in Richmond’s Southside overwhelmingly voted in favor of the casino referendum in 2021, with 74.7% of voters favoring the development, according to VPM. Southside Richmond overwhelmingly voted in favor of the project again, according to the most recent results from the Department of Elections.

Contact City and State Editor Nick Mossman at nick.mossman@richmond.edu. 

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