New Phase in Richmond, VA, Casino Selection Process Kicks Off

The Virginia City of Richmond announced late last week that its Resort Casino Evaluation Panel has entered the next phase of its ongoing casino selection process.

The unit has been assembled to assess proposals from companies interested to operate a Las Vegas-style casino resort in the city and recommend a preferred bidder to the Richmond City Council.

During its request for proposals process between December and February, the city received six bids. It culled three of the proposed projects in March and eliminated a fourth one in late April. The Cordish Companies of Baltimore and a joint venture between media corporation Urban One and Colonial Downs are the only two offers left in the race for the gaming license.

The city announced on Friday that the Evaluation Panel is set to launch the negotiation phase in the selection process. This is actually the final part of the multi-phase process of picking a preferred casino developer. At its end, the panel will recommend one of the two bids that are still in contention to Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

The evaluation unit said it expects to have its recommendation ready by the end of May. Said recommendation will address which of the above two operators and which proposed location would be put on the November 2 ballot.

Under Virginia casino law, residents of the city will have the final say on whether Richmond will host a casino by casting their vote on the matter in a citywide referendum.

Legal Challenge Threatens to Complicate Things

If the City Council approves the Evaluation Panel’s recommended proposal, it will then have to be assessed by the Virginia Lottery within a 45-day period after being submitted to the regulator. Richmond officials will also have to secure a court order to get the selected casino plan on the upcoming ballot for the final voter approval.

However, the process could hit a big snag as one of the four bidders whose projects have been rejected plans to sue the city, questioning its selection process.

Dennis Cotto, a Northern Virginia attorney and a partner and principle of Bet on Gaming Holdings, a company that had teamed up with Golden Nugget to jointly bid for the right to build Richmond’s casino, said last week that whenever he had participated in bids in the past and had lost them, he had gotten a debriefing. In this case, he was told there would be no debriefing, which means that the eliminated companies would not be able to seek redress or appeal of Richmond’s decision regarding their casino projects.

Mr. Cotto said he would file his lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court later this month. Pending litigation could prevent the court from issuing an order for the required citywide casino referendum and cause major disruption in the selection process.

Source: City of Richmond moving into next phase of casino process, ABC 8News, May 7, 2021

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