Richmond released a survey for local residents Tuesday asking for feedback on what the city should consider in proposals for a potential resort casino in Virginia’s capital.
The online survey will be open until December 14. The results will help inform the Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) document and outline the expectations of Richmond and its residents for any proposals.
“A competitive selection process will allow us to assess the best opportunity for Richmond,” Mayor Levar Stoney said in a statement. “This survey is your opportunity to make sure the development proposals reflect your priorities, such as living-wage jobs, sustainable building practices and investment in the community.”
In the statement, Leonard Sledge, director of economic development, said: “Our primary objective is to identify a successful proposal that has outstanding economic opportunities and community benefits for Richmonders. We anticipate receiving multiple submissions, and we want to put a process in place to identify an operator and site that results in a true win for Richmond.”
The survey asks respondents to rank potential community and economic benefits from a casino, what features the location should have and what elements could be included with the project. The survey also has optional questions for residents to give their zip code, age, gender and ethnicity.
This is just the first step in a months-long process, however.
In late December the RFQ/P will be opened, officially beginning the start of the city’s competitive process to choose a casino operator and site. At that time, operators can start submitting proposals and will need to give those as well as any other related material to the city before the RFQ/P closes in late February.
By summer 2021, the city will have reviewed all proposals with the help of an outside firm and will select one operator, considering public input. Once the operator is chosen a public announcement will be made.
Lastly, the potential resort casino will be put to a referendum that will appear on election ballots next November for the citizens to make the final decision on whether or not Richmond will have a resort casino.
Earlier this year, Governor Ralph Northam signed a law that allows for the construction of five casinos in different cities throughout the Commonwealth, including Richmond.
That law requires Richmond to select a preferred operator and location before having the courts create a casino referendum, which is the reason for the survey, RFQ/P document and competitive process.
So far, two potential operators have shown interest in submitting a bid for a casino project in Richmond: Colonial Downs Group and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.
“We’re definitely excited about the prospects of a casino in Richmond, but until we see what’s included in the RFQ/P and listen more to what the city and citizens want, it’s going to be hard for us to make a decision on a proposal,” Aaron Gomes, chief operating officer of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment and Colonial Downs, told The Virginia Star.
“We certainly have an interest, but, look, this is the first minute of the first inning,” Gomes added. “There is a lot more that we need to evaluate and look at and a lot more people to talk to before we could make a definitive decision.”
Jay Smith, a spokesperson for the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, told The Star that they are also waiting until the RFQ/P is released later this month to see what it entails before move forward with a specific proposal.
“The tribe definitely sees itself as a great partner for the City of Richmond,” Smith said. “They believe that [a casino] is something that would not only help the tribe, but it would actually help Richmond as well in providing significant new revenue to the city as well as jobs and economic opportunity. So we’re interested in partnering with the city.”
Smith also said that the tribe is not necessarily committed to using the property it bought in Manchester earlier this year as the site included in its proposal, and are looking at other locations around the city.
The survey can be found online here.
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