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US – Bally’s misses out in bid to land Richmond casino

By - 23 April 2021

The City of Richmond has cut the number of candidates in its quest to launch a casino from three to two with plans from Bally’s Corp. for a $650m, 1.6m-square-foot casino shelved.

The move leaves The Live! Casino & Hotel proposal by The Cordish and ONE Casino and Resort, proposed by Urban One on the table. Bally’s lost out following concerns about ‘site access, environmental factors, and required approvals from non-city entities that may not be granted or extend the project timeline.’

Leonard Sledge, Director of the city’s Department of Economic Development, said: “We appreciate Bally’s interest to develop a resort casino project in Richmond. The evaluation panel is no longer considering the Bally’s project or the Parkway Crossings site 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 timeline. We also appreciate the many Richmond citizens who have shared their thoughts throughout this process.”

Bally’s Corp. President and CEO George Papanier added: “We are disappointed and surprised by the evaluation panel’s decision. 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 become a responsible neighbor and member of the Richmond community. Should the city reconsider its decision, we would be pleased to reengage.”

Bally’s will still offer online sports-betting in the state having been awarded a temporary licence in March.

With a total value of $650m, including an upfront, unrestricted $100m payment to the City, along with $28-$30m in annual tax payments, Bally’s Richmond offered the largest financial package of the remaining finalists. Bally’s Richmond was estimated to attract approximately 3.7m visitors annually, generating $415m in annual total gross revenue, $5.3bn in economic value over 10 years as well as creating over 2,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Papanier continued, “Though we stand by the fact that our bid was objectively the strongest, we respect the City’s decision, and look forward to providing our best-in-class online sports betting platform to sports fans across the State of Virginia under our recently awarded temporary sports wagering permit.”

The Chief Operating Officer of The Cordish Zed Smith, said: “We thank the city of Richmond for continuing to recognize the strength of our proposal and its overall benefits to the city, its residents and visitors. We are excited by the support we are receiving from residents, businesses and civic organizations throughout the city who believe it is a no brainer to focus the project in a district known for great dining and entertainment and easily accessible to the population base from both I-64 and I-95. No gaming or development company in the country has our proven track record of building and operating the highest quality destinations over many decades. Every commitment, program and goal contained in our proposal has been successfully achieved time and again by us in other cities in the country and we pledge to bring the same excellence, high-quality standards and community-focused approach to Richmond. We are confident Live! Richmond will be as successful as our other market leading projects throughout the U.S”.

The Cordish proposal will generate 8,000 new jobs for local workers, 5,000 new construction jobs and 3,000 new permanent jobs with the highest proposed worker compensation package averaging $60,000 in wages and benefits. No hourly employee will earn less than $15 an hour. The project will generate in excess of $7.5 billion in overall economic impact benefits, $1.5 billion in tax revenue and over $200m in incremental community benefit payments to the city over the first 15 years of the project. These payments will help fund critical community services such as infrastructure, education, healthcare, parks & recreation, workforce development and affordable housing. The proposed resort casino’s central location in Scott’s Addition is expected to bring millions of new visitors to the region, bolstering the City’s existing attractions and businesses and supporting convention and tourism efforts.

Furthermore, Live! has committed to 50 per cent ownership in the project by local and minority investors, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Bruce Smith, Emmitt Smith III, former NFL star and local resident Billy McMullen, and other prominent business owners and former professional athletes. Live!’s investment from Minority participants totals $180 million, more than two and a half times the total equity investment of the remaining competitor.

The $600 million casino proposed by Live! features a 300-room luxury hotel with a resort pool, spa and wellness center, a first-class casino with 2,000 state-of-the-art slots and electronic table games and 120 live action table games, a Sportsbook, an Event Center designed for entertainment, meetings, conventions and social gatherings, a festival lawn for community events and outdoor entertainment, and 18 dining and entertainment options.

Cordish operates casino entertainment resort destinations including Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, FL and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, FL. It has recently opened two flagship properties in Pennsylvania – Live! Casino Pittsburgh and Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia.

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