City Council approves operator, site for ONE Casino + Resort in Richmond

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 11:29 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond is one step closer to bringing a casino and resort to the Southside after city council voted to approve the operator and site for Urban ONE Casino + Resort.

The company beat out several other bids to open up shop in Richmond.

All but one city council member, Katherine Jordan, voted in favor of moving the casino forward. Many of them though made it clear that their ‘yes’ vote wasn’t all about saying they want the casino, personally, but more about saying the public should decide.

The project touts a multi-story upscale hotel, a concert venue and a television production studio, as well as more than 1,300 jobs. It would be housed at the former Phillip Morris operations center at Walmsley and Commerce.

“I’m fully confident a 250 room luxury hotel, concert/entertainment venue, television/radio production studio and a casino will bring people from outside the Richmond region into the region where they will spend their entertainment and disposable dollars…We’re competing with other regions around the state for tourism,” Richmond Tourism President, Jack Berry, said.

“ONE Casino has made a commitment to become a significant community and philanthropic partner here in the city, and I’m so impressed with that,” Monroe Harris added during public comment.

Others are saying not so fast.

“Gambling as a solution to social revenue, and I would add equity needs, faces the risk of turning poverty into misery even for the many who do not themselves gamble. I think this is morally wrong,” Suzanne Keller said.

“I’m 110% against it…You’re going to have more crime that comes with it. I lived in Atlantic City when those casinos were going (in). That city has become ruins at this point, and I’d hate to see that happen to the community and city of Richmond that I love and fight for on a daily basis,” Richard Walker added.

“It doesn’t bring crime. It’s not going to bring crime. It’s going to help us with people getting jobs so they can feel good about themselves, so they can feel productive, so they can maintain an income for their families,” councilmember Reva Trammell said.

There are a few more steps but the measure is ultimately expected to head to the ballot box in November. That’s when Richmonders will vote yes or no.

Councilmember Ann Frances-Lambert says she’s hearing from those on both sides of the issue. For those who don’t want the casino, she said “don’t go to the casino.”

Alfred Liggins, Urban One CEO, released the following statement:

“ONE is extremely grateful and proud that Richmond City Council has voted to move forward with a first-class casino and resort in Richmond’s Southside. This project will be funded entirely with private investment and will generate millions of dollars in critically needed new tax revenue that can be used for schools, affordable housing, workforce development, infrastructure and other city priorities.

This will be a transformational project for the city, attracting additional tourism revenue that will lift up all of Richmond and improve the quality of life for those who call this city home. At the same time, ONE will create 1300 well-paying jobs with profit-sharing for employees and pathways to successful careers. We will also be true community partners, investing with non-profits and worthwhile causes across the city.

We look forward to sharing our great story and the tremendous benefits of our proposal with Richmond voters in the months ahead in advance of the November referendum.”

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