With the release of the Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) document, Richmond can now begin accepting submissions from established operators to build a resort casino in Virginia’s capital city.
Monday’s release of the RFQ/P marks the official start of the months-long competitive process to potentially bring a resort casino to Richmond in the coming years. The document outlines what the city expects from a proposal.
“With this project, we’re looking for the best possible opportunity for Richmond – that means jobs, sustainability, investment in our city,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney wrote on Twitter.
With this project, we’re looking for the best possible opportunity for Richmond – that means jobs, sustainability, investment in our city. Thank you all for providing your feedback. Your priorities formed this request for proposals. https://t.co/mDM6wMRz29
— Levar M. Stoney (@LevarStoney) December 29, 2020
The RFQ/P not only has specific requirements each proposal must address, but it also has several general objectives that the city “encourages” applicants’ plans to accomplish.
Some of those objectives include: creating sustainable and well-paying jobs with benefits, enhancing Richmond’s economic development and providing additional revenue to the city that can be used for important needs such as public education, affordable housing and public infrastructure, among others.
The specific requirements laid out in the document are broken into two sections. First, the operators’ qualifications and experiences, and then the actual proposed casino project.
Included within qualifications and experiences must be a description of the applicant and all partner entities and a separate description of the applicant’s experience developing or operating resort casino projects during the last five years. Additionally, operators must provide evidence of their community involvement in other places, such as community benefit agreements, and available sources of financing for the project.
Lastly, applicants must be able to pass background checks and be a licensed casino gaming operator in Virginia.
Under the proposed casino project section, applicants need to identify a proposed site for the casino, detail the overall plan for the project, which includes everything from renderings to revenues to balance sheets. Applicants must also provide a community engagement plan, demonstrated commitments to problem gaming initiatives and to identify any potential adverse effects that might result from the casino.
All responses to the RFQ/P from operators are due by 3 p.m. local time on February 22, 2021, and must be submitted to Leonard Sledge, director of economic development.
The RFQ/P also incorporated some feedback from Richmond residents who filled out a survey the city released at the beginning of December that asked about desired benefits from a casino.
Survey results from 2,021 respondents – who were mostly white, male and between the age of 30-39 – showed those residents found jobs paying a living wage or higher and funding for public education as the most important benefits from a potential casino.
After the RFQ/P closes in late February, the city will take several months to review all submitted proposals and will use an outside consulting firm to aid in the process. By summer of 2021, the city will select one operator, while considering community input, and announce the decision to the public.
Whether or not the city welcomes a future casino is ultimately up to Richmond’s voters to decide through referendum on election ballots, just as residents from four cities did this past November.
Two potential operators that have shown interest in submitting a bid for a resort casino project in Richmond are the Colonial Downs Group and Pamunkey Indian Tribe. Representatives from each group previously told The Virginia Star that they were waiting until the RFQ/P was released before making a final decision and sending in a proposal to the city.
A resort casino in Richmond and other localities in Virginia only became possible after Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation into law earlier this year that allowed for the possible establishment of casinos in certain jurisdictions if approved by local voters.
For more information on the Richmond resort casino development, visit: rva.gov/economic-development/resort-casino
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