Virginia lawmakers have made a historic decision regarding Richmond’s eligibility as a potential casino site. This decision comes in the wake of two rejections by Richmond voters of the casino proposal, marking a pivotal moment in the city’s legislative landscape.

With resounding bipartisan support, the Virginia General Assembly has unanimously voted to permanently exclude Richmond from the list of eligible host cities for a casino. The legislative action, which saw a 100-0 vote in the House of Delegates and a 40-0 vote in the state Senate, reflects the clear stance taken by Richmond residents in rejecting the casino proposal.

The proposed bills, championed by Richmond lawmakers such as Del. Betsy Carr and state Sen. Lamont Bagby, underscore the importance of representing the will of the citizens. Sen. Bagby, in particular, emphasized that the decision to remove Richmond from consideration aligns with the expressed disapproval of the city’s residents, as evidenced by the referendum rejections.

If signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the bills will amend the state code to formally remove Richmond from eligibility criteria for hosting a casino. Previously, Richmond’s population size, property tax exemptions, and poverty rates could have made it eligible under certain conditions. However, with the proposed amendments, these criteria will no longer apply to the city.

Richmond’s journey towards hosting a casino has been met with disappointment, as voters rejected the proposal by significant margins in both the 2021 and November 2023 referendums. Despite initial considerations, the city’s aspirations for a casino have now been definitively halted by the legislative decision.

While Richmond’s casino aspirations come to an end, discussions regarding Petersburg’s eligibility for a casino continue to unfold. Plans for a casino referendum in Fairfax County have been postponed until 2025, reflecting the diverse legislative landscape across the state of Virginia.

As the 2024 General Assembly session progresses, the decision to exclude Richmond from casino consideration marks a significant milestone in the city’s legislative history. While there has been no immediate response from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s spokesperson regarding the legislative development, the ongoing session is slated to conclude on March 9, leaving room for further legislative deliberations and outcomes.

Virginia lawmakers’ unanimous decision to remove Richmond from casino eligibility reflects the importance of respecting the voice of the electorate and upholding democratic principles in legislative decision-making.

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