Richmond Once Again Rejects Casino Proposal

As of November 7, 2023, the voters in Richmond have decided against a casino referendum by a wider margin than they did before, despite a substantial campaign by casino developers and the support of city leaders.

In the recently held referendum, 58% of voters cast their ballots against the casino, with only 42% in favor. This outcome comes after the defeat of a similar measure in 2021, indicating a steeper battle for the casino backers.

Local activist Paul Goldman, who led the anti-casino campaign, termed it a “David versus Goliath” battle, where he and his allies were outspent by the companies promoting the casino.

Even though nearly 18,000 early voting ballots have not been included in the unofficial results by the state Board of Elections, the margin is substantial enough for the pro-casino group to concede defeat.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney expressed disappointment over the loss of the project, which was anticipated to bring economic development to the south side of the city.

The referendum failure indicates the second time Richmond voters have opposed casino construction in the city. The proposed project would have been developed by a partnership between Maryland-based media company Urban One and Churchill Downs, the famous racing and gaming company known for hosting the Kentucky Derby annually.

It is noteworthy that Richmond was the only Virginia city out of five that did not pass a casino referendum, following a state legislative package adopted in 2020.

The complete rejection of the casino referendum is a setback for casino developers, especially considering the substantial efforts made by proponents to sway the voters in favor.

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