Bally’s Richmond Casino Odds Lengthen, as Locals Oppose Site


Posted on: April 15, 2021, 07:34h. 

Last updated on: April 15, 2021, 07:37h.

The Bally’s Corporation wants to build a casino resort in the Virginia capital of Richmond with a total investment of $650 million. But the odds of the company receiving the city’s lone gaming license are lengthening due to heavy opposition regarding its proposed site. 

Bally's Richmond casino resort bid
The Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort blueprint is pictured. Locals in the area are coming out in full force to voice their opposition to the site plan, which is located just north of the Powhite Parkway and east of the Chippenham Parkway. (Image: Bally’s Corporation)

Bally’s, based in Rhode Island and only recently formed through Twin River Worldwide Holdings’ acquisition of the Bally’s brand, is one of three finalists for the Richmond privileges. The gaming firm has pinpointed 61 acres south of the city and the James River near the Chippenham and Powhite parkways. 

But amid strong backlash from residents in the area, Bally’s asked Richmond to rethink how it’s going about awarding its casino concession. Bally’s requested that instead of the casino operators presenting the city with site plans, the town select a location and decide which gaming company to partner with. 

Richmond officials say that won’t be happening.

The city has been consistent throughout the Resort Casino RFQ/P process in its evaluation of a single site submitted by each respondent to the RFQ/P. The operator and site go hand in hand,” said Leonard Sledge, director of the Department of Economic Development.

Richmond residents can continue to submit their feedback and opinions on the three proposed casino projects by emailing econdev@richmondgov.com. 

Process Moving Forward

Bally’s is offering Richmond with the largest investment of the three finalists. The $650 million price tag includes a one-time $100 million contribution to the city — also the largest of the proposals. 

Maryland-based Cordish Companies has submitted a $600 million blueprint for Live! Casino and Hotel Richmond. The company has selected a 17-acre site in the historic Scott’s Addition neighborhood along Arthur Ashe Boulevard. 

Urban One, a media conglomerate headquartered in Maryland that is focused on “Representing Black America,” has presented a $517 million development. The casino plan is on 100 acres at the former Philip Morris tobacco factory just off Interstate 95. Urban One has partnered with Revolutionary Racing, a Chicago-based gaming company that owns the Colonial Downs Racetrack and Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums throughout Virginia.

With Richmond rejecting Bally’s’ wishes for the city to revamp its selection process, city officials say the timeline is unchanged. 

“The next phase of the city-led community engagement will start in May when the Evaluation Panel shares its recommended operator, location, and terms of the deal. The city has not promoted and is not participating in meetings convened by the three remaining respondents,” a release from the Department of Economic Development explained.

November Referendum

Locals will ultimately have the final say on the Richmond casino. Once the city selects its winning scheme, details of the project will go before voters during November’s election.

If a simple majority backs the plan, the casino permit will be issued to the selected firm, and construction will be permitted to commence. 

Last year, four Virginia cities each passed casino referendums. Gaming resorts are on the way to Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville, and Bristol.