Officials from Churchill Downs Incorporated and Urban One have disclosed the newest proposal for a casino, resort and entertainment property named Richmond Grand Resort and Casino. Additionally, they pointed out that this latest project will be unlike from the one that voters had the opportunity to vote on in 2021, as it has now been “rebranded.”
New rebranded casino project:
The latest casino proposal now states that casino will be a “joint venture“ between aforementioned Churchill Downs, a flagship entertainment, gaming and horse racing firm based in Kentucky, and Urban One, the biggest African American-owned broadcasting firm in the US based in Maryland.
In compliance with details provided by the representatives, the rebranded project will now involve:
- Resort-style benefits such as a fitness center, outdoor pool, deluxe spa and cabanas;
- a deluxe hotel with 250 rooms;
- a gaming area with card and table games such as blackjack, craps, roulette, slot machines and poker;
- a 55-acre park for pickleball, farmer’s markets, festivals, concerts in addition to other events;
- a 3000-seat concert area for musicians on tours, comedians and many other entertainers;
- fancy dining options such as breweries, providers from Richmond’s food scene and local restaurants;
- audio production and film venues;
- dedicated event space for sporting events, conventions, religious communities and trade associations.
Backers of the aforementioned project state that the project will create 1,300 new job positions that “average $55,000 in annual compensation and benefits and thousands of union jobs during construction.” More speculation on how this project will positively impact the Richmond community, according to the aforementioned supporters, involves:
- $30 million in tax income year-on-year;
- a current $26.5 million investment in the City of Richmond;
- $16 million in “charitable contributions” during the course of the next 10 years;
- 225,000 tourists every year;
- $325.000 investment in fair transit options per year;
- $25 million in “free advertising” during the course of the next 10 years;
- $50 million in audio production, film and television during the course of the next 10 years.
Commenting on how the rebranded project will help the local community in Richmond, Urban One Inc. CEO, Alfred Liggins, said: “Richmonders told us they want great jobs, community investment, greenspace, and top-tier entertainment. With Richmond Grand, we’ve delivered. Richmond Grand will offer something for everyone—incredible shows, exciting gaming and entertainment, outdoor recreation, luxurious spas and pools, and a huge addition of jobs and tax revenue for the city. This is a plan by Richmond, for Richmond, and when we vote yes, all of Richmond wins.”
Voters to have a say on whether they want a casino:
In 2019, a bill was approved in Richmond, along with 4 others cities in Virginia, that allows voters to have a say whether they want a casino or not. But a previous version of this casino proposal was initially rejected when it was put to a vote in Richmond. However, in July 2023, a judge allowed the rebranded casino project to go back to the do-over vote and Richmonders will once again have the opportunity to vote for or against the said casino in an early referendum vote which will start in September 2022. Speaking of which, the developers say: “We’re asking people to give the project a chance and look into the changes we incorporated from the feedback from the community.” William C. Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Inc., added: “I think the city itself is in a different place ultimately and will be more intentional about the use of more funds.”
But some residents still fear the said project, such as Paul Goodman who said in a conversation with 8News: “I believe the casino could potentially exploit residents. I say put the interests of the city first, put the interest of all the citizens like you want the city to improve. You’re not going to improve it by bringing in a casino, a no-bid project to our city. And I just hope people will think that think about that.”