Study tries to determine if casinos can coexist in Petersburg and Richmond
In recent years, Virginia has slowly allowed more and more legal gambling. Now the state may be about to move into uncharted territory with as many as four casinos that could be up and running by 2025. Senator Janet Howell is a Democrat from Fairfax County who is chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee.
"It's pretty obvious this is going to be a major issue this coming session," Howell said Monday. "And it's likely to be a brawl, and it's likely to have every lobbyist in Richmond involved as we can see from the audience."
This week, lawmakers received a new report detailing how multiple casinos might eat into each other’s profits, especially if they are close.
Senator Lionel Spruill is a Democrat from Chesapeake who asked Tracey Smith at the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission about what would happen to a Petersburg casino if another casino were to open in Richmond. "Without Richmond, Petersburg would be on a larger scale," Spruill noted. "So I'm trying to figure out why we would want to downscale the Petersburg market?"
"Senator, that is probably a policy call," Smith responded. "Both Richmond and Petersburg would have smaller casinos in the combination scenario than if they were to have their own casino and not another one within that market."
Lawmakers are going to need to strike a balance between casino interests that want to make money and local governments that are eager for the new tax revenue.
In a statement, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said he was pleased with the report. "We look forward to further discussion on this important economic development opportunity, which would provide well-paying jobs and much-needed revenue to address priorities.”
This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.