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Petersburg battles for casino option over Richmond in General Assembly

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 12:13 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2022 at 7:08 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The city of Richmond’s gamble on bringing back ONE Casino + Resort could become a moot point.

“This city, Petersburg, is although it is a city on the rise, I call it phoenix rising, it has experienced those problems in the past. It’s is centrally located in central Virginia. It is ideal for a casino location,” said State Sen. Joe Morrissey, (D) 16th District.

This week, state house and senate committees moved legislation forward that would add Petersburg to the casino list and prevent any city that once voted “no” from holding another referendum for five years. That would be Richmond, where the casino measure failed by a slim margin last year.

“I hope we would seek an injunction. How are you going to block peoples’ voices for five years? That’s excessive. That’s something you voted on and it can’t change for five years? That is anti-democracy,” said Mike Jones, Richmond City Council.

Now, the city council is reviving the proposal by putting it back on the ballot this November.

“But now they want a do-over and essentially says well we lost let’s have a do-over and if they lose again? How about another do-over and another one. That’s not the way the democratic process works,” said State Sen. Morrissey.

Petersburg leaders made their pitch to state lawmakers too, asking them for the economic opportunity. The mayor and others laid out viable locations for a potential casino.

“If this casino was put in there, it is a final piece of the puzzle that will allow Petersburg to get back to what I call its glory days,” said State Sen. Morrissey.

Lawmakers made it very clear state code only allows five casinos in the state. So both cities cannot have a casino in the end - it’s one or the other.

“It’ll be interesting to see what comes out at the general assembly and what comes out of the two bills before them,” said Stephanie Lynch, Richmond City Council.

Both bills are still circulating inside the general assembly.

Meanwhile, Richmond is petitioning the circuit court to have another referendum.

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