Richmond Casino Project Dealt Another Blow as Voters Reject Plans Again

The recent referendum for the Richmond casino project ended in resounding defeat, with nearly 58% of voters rejecting the proposal. This do-over referendum saw the many corporate sponsors behind the project, like Churchill Downs and Urban One, spending over $10 million on get-out-the-vote and advertising campaigns. Controversy also emerged over reports of racially insensitive and antisemitic speech on Richmond radio stations owned by Urban One. The nearly 78,000 Richmond residents who cast their votes in the 2023 referendum were matched against 79,000 two years ago, with a wider margin of difference this time. The community was divided along demographic lines, with the West and North Sides voting against the casino, while the East and South Sides, especially Black residents, voted in favor. Despite this, the proponents of the casino project have been adamant in its pursuit, with Urban One and Churchill Downs investing heavily in advertising, door knocking, and free food and music events. Their efforts also saw support from various organizations, city leaders, and union chapters, who viewed the project as a source of much-needed jobs. However, the opposition, including local businesses and individuals, has been vocal and visible, taking their message to the air with a plane carrying a banner reading “VOTE NO CASINO … AGAIN” over the Richmond Folk Festival. The ongoing battle over the proposed $562 million Richmond Grand Resort & Casino also drew a jab from a former campaign manager for the pro-casino campaigners against Mayor Levar Stoney. Meanwhile, residents like Taste Good Authentic Jamaican Flavor food truck owner Lushan Phang state their readiness to invoice the casino campaign for meals distributed during the campaign’s events. Casino opponents Thomas E. Gottwald and Paul Goldman utilized their financial resources to make their case known. In the end, despite the efforts of both sides, the majority of voters made clear their position on this issue.