Bally’s Corporation Officially Out of Richmond Casino Race

Posted on: April 21, 2021, 09:36h. 

Last updated on: April 21, 2021, 09:50h.

The Bally’s Corporation and its bid to build a $650 million integrated casino resort south of downtown Richmond, Virginia has been officially rejected.

Bally's Richmond casino Virginia
Richmond residents protest a potential casino development last month. Bally’s Corporation, one of the three finalists, has been removed from the bidding by officials in the Virginia capital city. (Image: WRIC)

Residents in the Stratford Hills neighborhood voiced strong opposition to the casino operator’s targeted site for the development. Bally’s identified 61 acres of land north of the Powhite Parkway and east of the Chippenham Parkway.

The Richmond Economic Development Department, which is handling the casino bidding and review process, confirmed that Bally’s is no longer in the running.

“The Evaluation Panel is no longer considering the Bally’s project … for a resort casino due to concerns about site access, environmental factors, and required approvals from non-city entities that may not be granted or extend the project time line,” explained Department of Economic Development Director Leonard Sledge.

That leaves Richmond with two casino offers. The Cordish Companies has presented a $600 million development scheme in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood. Urban One has suggested a $517 million project adjacent to the Philip Morris tobacco plant just off Interstate 95.  

The Economic Development’s casino panel says factors in deciding the ultimate winner includes community impact and benefits, location, direct revenue impact to the city, project feasibility and sustainability, and economic development impact. 

Bally’s Responds

The Bally’s Corporation was only recently formed following Twin River Worldwide Holdings’ acquisition last year of the iconic casino brand from Caesars Entertainment. Twin River then assumed the brand as its new corporate identity. The Rhode Island-based casino company panned the decision by Richmond officials to exclude its casino pitch.

We are disappointed and surprised,” Bally’s President and CEO George Papanier said. “We are the best operator to partner with the city on this endeavor and we provided the largest financial package with the most economic benefit to residents and business owners. 

“We were deeply committed to this project, as well as to becoming a responsible neighbor and member of the Richmond community. Should the city reconsider its decision, we would be pleased to reengage,” Papanier concluded.

Stratford Hills residents rejected the Bally’s plans. 

“I hope Bally’s will go home. They don’t belong in Stratford Hills,” resident Jeanne Walls said during a public hearing on the casino earlier this month. “Everybody in Stratford Hills works hard for what they have. I know I have. I want to keep it a quiet and peaceful neighborhood.”

ONE’s to Lose?

The Cordish plan in Scott’s Addition has also received backlash from neighborhood residents. The Ginter Park Residents Association, which covers much of the neighborhood, says 94 percent of its members oppose the casino.

Urban One has seemingly emerged as the odds-on favorite at this time. Its target location is outside of a neighborhood in a manufacturing zone, and in an area that has a more diverse surrounding population.

Urban’s project — known as ONE Casino + Resort — has received the backing of 8th District Councilwoman Reva Trammell, who represents the community where the casino would be built. 

Urban One said recently that Trammell is “actively supporting” its goal of winning approval from the Economic Development Department. Whichever of the two casino pitches the city selects will go before voters next November through a ballot referendum. A simple majority is needed for the casino to become fully authorized. 

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Source: https://www.casino.org/news/ballys-corporation-officially-out-of-richmond-casino-race-following-local-backlash/