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City Council Votes to Roll the Dice on a Second Casino Referendum Doubling Down with Tax Cuts

Is anybody looking forward to months of casino referendum ads again?

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In November the voters of Richmond rejected the referendum that would allow a casino to be built in South Side Richmond. The vote was close, at 51% against 49% for and broke down on racial lines. Black neighborhoods and voters were heavily in favor of the casino.

Last night the vote wasn’t close. Only Councilwoman Katherine Jordan voted against the measure to put the One Casino Referendum back on the table. The casino would still be built near Commerce Road and Walmsley Boulevard.

Outspoken former 6th District City Council candidate and anti-casino activist Allan-Charles Chipman summed up the situation thusly:
“The passage of this legislation would defy the expressed will of the people in Richmond. It is a frequent tactic of casinos once they lose any democratic referendum to try and break the will of the people with consecutive referendums…While double or nothing is an acceptable tool for someone who lost a bet in the casino, it is not an acceptable option for the members of this body who lost a bet on a casino.”

To sweeten the pot, Mayor Stoney is promising a 2-cent reduction to the city’s real estate tax rate if and only if the referendum passes. The hope being that the promised tax revenue from the casino would fill any budget gaps. The Mayor is betting that the casino will keep paying out long after the “newness” shine has worn off.

As with all proposals, the $600 million One Casino proposal promises a lot, $30 million in annual tax revenue, 1,500 jobs, and an immediate $25 million payment if the measure passes.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.