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Richmond Residents Raise Concerns Casino Could Bring Crime, Neighborhood Change

A rendering of the proposed Pamunkey Indian Tribe casino resort in south Richmond.
A rendering of the proposed Pamunkey Indian Tribe casino resort in south Richmond. (Courtesy of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe)

Residents in Richmond’s Southside got a first chance to share their questions and concerns Thursday regarding a planned casino resort in that area.

Virginia’s Pamunkey Indian Tribe recently announced plans to build a casino resort near the intersection of Ingraham Avenue and Commerce Road. The $350 million development would include a hotel tower and a 1,000-car garage. Questions and comments from the community were mostly centered around the potential for crime.

Barbara Starkey-Goode, Vice President Oak Grove Civic Association, said she fears the casino could cause crime to flare up in the neighborhood again.

“We fought hard to bring peace and stability to the Southside,” she said. “With the great strides we have made, we cannot afford to be pulled back into fighting crime that is not even of our making ”

Starkey-Goode said she is organizing a petition against locating the casino in that location.

Mary Bryant, a member of the Bellemeade Civic Association, also raised concerns about how the casino could clash with the existing character of a mostly residential neighborhood nearby. 

She said it could put more traffic on roads already in need of repair.

“I do not support the placement of a casino in a neighborhood, or any neighborhood for that matter,” Bryant said. 

City and tribe officials were on hand to address the questions of concerns from the mostly Black community residents. 

Chief Robert Gray said Thursday that they were committed to giving jobs and business opportunities to other minority-owned businesses in Richmond. 

“As a minority business ourselves, we want to give a boost to other minority businesses and other minority persons,” Gray said. 

Legislation to legalize casino gambling in Virginia is expected to pass the General Assembly in the coming weeks. The House and Senate are still at odds over whether Virginia’s Native American tribes should be given preference as casino operators.

The legislation currently requires Richmond voters to sign off on the proposal through a voter referendum.