Richmond Casino Campaign’s Unsuccessful Effort Cost $400+ Per Vote

Published on: November 10, 2023, 01:54h.

Last updated on: November 10, 2023, 01:54h.

The Urban One partnership with Churchill Downs suffered a significant defeat in the failed Richmond casino referendum. The referendum, which sought to authorize a Las Vegas-style casino, was rejected by city voters for the second time in three years. Urban One and Churchill Downs spent over $10 million on the failed gaming push, but were unable to sway the outcome.

Richmond casino vote Virginia
The Richmond casino vote was more strongly opposed in 2023 than a similar gaming referendum was in 2021. The would-be developers of the Richmond Grand Resort & Casino spent over $10 million on the failed gaming push. (Image: Virginia Public Access Project)

The 2021 gaming referendum was narrowly defeated by a 51-49% outcome, with less than 1,500 votes being the difference.

Urban One and Churchill Downs collectively spent $10,684,473.30 on their “Richmond Wins, Vote Yes” political action committee (PAC), but ultimately received less than 39% of the vote. The “No Means No Casino” PAC, in contrast, spent just shy of $400,000, or about ten dollars per vote.

Racial Divide

Urban One founder Cathy Hughes levied racial accusations against her casino opponents during a radio interview in the leadup to Election Day. The media mogul said those who oppose the project, even if they are Black, more closely align with white people.

Though you may have a house like theirs, a car like theirs, and your children go to the same schools, they see you as a n*****,” Hughes said.

In 2023, it wasn’t only the more affluent communities that opposed the casino question. Of the 72 precincts in Richmond, just 20 voted in favor of the gaming initiative.

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