State senator seeks to block Richmond casino referendum again
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia State Sen. Joe Morrissey is still determined to stop Richmond City Hall from betting on another referendum for a casino.
“I will do what I can to make sure there’s budget language that prohibits Richmond from getting a casino,” said Morrissey, D-16th District.
The move comes after the measure failed in 2021, with 51% of voters saying no.
“I’m disappointed that Richmond keeps going back, trying to get a referendum. It reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day. We hear it over and over again,” said Sen. Morrissey.
Richmond tried for a second referendum the following year, but Morrissey got in the way, saying a casino should be built in Petersburg.
He blocked Richmond’s casino vote in 2022 through a state budget amendment. Now 2023 could be up in the air.
“I would hope that Joe relents, but Joe’s going to Joe, and so we just have to hold fast and trust, you know, our friends in the General Assembly to deliver for us,” said Mike Jones, a Richmond City Councilor.
Others are still fighting a Richmond casino if Morrissey’s plan doesn’t pan out.
“So this is really about how Richmond feels about respecting democratic processes or not, and then also it’s the same casino,” said Allan-Charles Chipman, Initiatives of Change USA.
The casino project still boasts the same features from 2021.
Richmond leaders say it’s a $562.5 million project, expected to generate $29.7 million yearly. The site will also house a 250-room hotel, a 3,000-seat entertainment venue and restaurants.
“I feel really good. I feel really optimistic about what November may hold,” said Mayor Levar Stoney, City of Richmond.
The Virginia Lottery and Richmond Circuit Court also still have to approve the referendum before it’s put on the November ballot.
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