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Mayor Stoney sends casino-focused letter to area lawmakers

A person in a suit speaks at a podium with microphones
Crixell Matthews
VPM News
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney attends the opening of a new playground in August. Stoney recently wrote to Richmond's state legislative delegation asking them to work to bring a casino to the city.

Mayor Levar Stoney wants Richmond’s General Assembly delegation to work toward bringing “a world-class resort casino to the City of Richmond.”

On Monday, Stoney posted to social media an image of hisJan. 6 letter to eight regional lawmakers. It highlights Stoney’s long-standing goal of establishing a resort casino within city limits.

Richmond voters previously rejected — 51% to 49% — a ballot referendum to establish a new resort casino in the city’s Southside neighborhood. City Councilmembers attempted to put a second referendum up for consideration in 2022, but later withdrew the request after language was added to the state budget barring the vote.

Stoney wrote, “I adamantly oppose any legislation that constricts the rights of Richmond to have a resort casino.”

Editor’s Note: VPM News is reposting Mayor Levar Stoney’s letter in its originally published entirety for accessibility purposes. There is one linked phrase — “legislative recommendations for the 2023 General Assembly” — that could not be immediately sourced. (Read our Jan. 5 story on the City Council’s legislative priorities for the 2023 General Assembly.)

VPM News wants to hear your responses to one question: What do you want to learn about the most during the 2023 General Assembly session?City of Richmond: Levar M. Stoney, Mayor

January 6, 2023

The Honorable Jennifer L. McClellan (D-9)The Honorable Betsy B. Carr (D-69)
The Honorable Ghazala Hashmi (D-10)The Honorable Delores L. McQuinn (D-70)
The Honorable Joseph Morrissey (D-16)The Honorable Jeff M. Bourne (D-71)
The Honorable Dawn M. Adams (D-68)The Honorable Lamont Bagby (D-74)

Dear Richmond Delegation:
I am writing to clarify my position on the opportunity to bring a world-class resort casino to the City of Richmond. As a reminder, Richmond's selected operator, Urban One, would have provided over 1800 residents with an opportunity for real economic mobility, diversified Richmond's revenue streams, and included 40 percent minority business participation both during construction and afterward through the operations of the resort hotel and casino. Additionally, an overwhelming amount of eighth district residents supported this project and believed in the vision of revitalization it would bring to their neighborhoods.

That being said, and given that there has been misinformation surrounding my stance on this project, I want to be explicitly clear: I adamantly oppose any legislation that constricts the rights of Richmond to have a resort casino. My Richmond City Council colleagues also stand firm in preserving and defending Richmond's authority to hold a resort casino referendum in 2023 as indicated in their legislative recommendations for the 2023 General Assembly, which was unanimously adopted on December 12, 2022.

On October 17, 2022, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission further demonstrated the better value and fit a Richmond-located resort casino could have on the Commonwealth, with Richmond's net gaming revenue in Virginia projecting to increase by 29% in comparison to Petersburg's 18%. This speaks volumes about the opportunity this can bring to the Richmond Region. The benefit of this potential economic development project will, without a doubt, encourage economic opportunity and vitality in a part of our city that has often been forgotten. It will also support more robust city-wide services and investments in critical city-wide infrastructure.

Please know that I remain committed to ensuring Richmonders have a fair chance of truly expressing their support for a referendum on this topic in 2023.


Levar M. Stoney, Mayor

900 East Broad Street, Suite 201 — Richmond, Virginia 23219 — (804) 646-7970

Dawnthea M. Price Lisco (dawn-TAY-uh, she/her) is the managing editor at VPM News.