Predicting Virginia Casino Referendum Votes
The stakes for the November 3rd election in the United States have never been higher, especially in Virginia. Multiple localities in the Old Dominion will vote on whether to allow live casino gambling. This is a crucial vote that will create new jobs and additional tax revenue streams for the state.
The votes have additional implications for online gambling, as it will open the door for legal online casino gambling and online poker in the state. Today, we will take a quick look at the chances for each locality legalizing online gambling and what to expect if those regions’ citizens vote yes.
Danville – The Money Talks
When looking at the odds of legal casino gambling in Virginia, the two main areas to look are Danville and Bristol. Danville’s economy has struggled for years, and the addition of a casino will be a much-needed boost to the local economy.
Danville has already entered into an agreement with Caesars Entertainment for a casino. The $400 million project will produce approximately 1,300 jobs in the region and an estimated $20 million in local revenue. Also, the city will receive a $10 million payment from Caesars immediately upon the referendum passing.
This is one instance where the money talks. There’s too much money at stake for the referendum not to pass. We put this referendum at a 100% chance to pass.
Bristol – Early Frontrunner in Process
Bristol was the region that started the ball rolling on casino regulation in Virginia and has been pushing for legalization for years. If passed, Hard Rock Casino & Resort will take over the former Bristol Mall property and build a massive property that will include a casino, hotel, and retail space for 50 stores and restaurants.
The project will produce approximately 2,000 new jobs with an average salary of $45,000 per person. Bristol has a poverty rate of 20.5 percent, so these jobs are much needed in the region. The idea of casino gambling has been festering in the area for a while, so the odds of it passing are much greater than other locations outside of Danville. We put this referendum at 75% or greater to pass.
Portsmouth – Minority Partnerships Could Push Deal Over Top
In Portsmouth, Rush Street Gaming is looking to build a $300 million casino resort that will generate around 1,300 jobs and add about $200 million annually to the regional GDP. However, the real difference-maker for this referendum is the casino’s commitment to employing minorities and women.
If you look at some of their other casinos in other states, Rush Street Gaming has a workforce between 39 to 46 percent female. Better still, the casino is committed to employing minorities. Their Philadelphia casino is 50% minority while their Des Plaines IL casino is 61 percent minority.
The focus on diversity and minority partnerships could be the difference-maker on election day. However, it is also the one region we’ve heard the least from. This could prove both good and bad on election day. Right now, we put the odds slightly better than a coin flip at 55% to pass.
Norfolk – Out of the four referendums being held, the Norfolk one seems to be the one with the greatest controversy. The city is partnered with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe for a $500 million project that will include a hotel, casino, restaurants, and a 2,500-seat venue for entertainment. However, there has been a ton of controversy surrounding the potential new deal.
The former head of the Pamunkey Tribe is claiming that the tribe is ill-fated to run the casino, lacking experience. He also claims that the land it’s being built on is an environmental disaster. Finally, he thinks that the partnership with Billionaire Jon Yarbrough is a bad one and that Yarbrough is using the Pamunkey tribe to line his pockets. Also, there is a major citizen group looking to convince citizens to vote against the project. They claim that the deal is underhanded and bad for the city.
However, the Pamunkey tribe is lobbying hard in the region and throwing a lot of money at advertising to try and get votes. This referendum is the one that we think could be defeated outright, but the true odds are more of a 50-50 flip. The closing weeks could decide this one, but we wouldn’t be shocked to see this referendum lose.
Richmond – Will Vote at a Later Date
Richmond is the fifth area approved to hold a referendum for live casinos, but that is not happening this year. The main reason is that the city has not found a partner. It may also be because they are waiting to see what happens in Portsmouth and Norfolk.
We probably will start hearing more about this project in early 2021, but for now, we will have to wait and see what happens in the rest of the state. It’s a lock that legal casino gambling is coming to Virginia. We now have to wait and see how many casinos are approved.