The Virginia House of Delegates has given preliminary approval to Petersburg’s casino referendum legislation and has passed the bill on to its final vote.
The final vote is expected to take place on Tuesday, which serves as the cut-off point for the House and Senate to take action on their own bills before considering bills from the opposite chamber.
A Senate companion bill failed by one vote last week in the Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee. However, unlike the state Senate, Republicans control the House. This means that Tuesday’s final vote could be in favor of the bill.
The proposed legislation would allow Petersburg to hold a vote in November on the possibility of establishing a casino in the Wagner Road area. Additionally, it would prevent Richmond, which was the only one of the original five cities to reject such a vote in 2020, from conducting another ballot.
Petersburg is advocating for a casino due to the potential economic benefits it would bring to the area. The city also contends that since Richmond’s referendum was defeated, it is now Petersburg’s turn to hold a vote.
In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly approved the legalization of casino gambling in five cities. The same year, voters in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville, and Bristol approved the operation of casinos. However, Richmond voters rejected a $650 million casino resort proposal by Urban One in 2021. This rejection, caused by misleading information about the project according to Richmond leaders, sparked Petersburg’s interest in the casino industry.
Since the legalization of casinos, only the Hard Rock Bristol has opened its doors to the public.