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US – Council vote pushes Virginia casino ever closer

By - 7 January 2019

Members of Danville City Council voted unanimously on a resolution that advances the consideration of legislative changes that could bring a casino to Southside in southwest Virginia.

A statement from the city said the resolution is “in support of legislation in the upcoming General Assembly session that would enable and require a local referendum on construction of a casino resort in Bristol, Danville and other specified localities.”

United Company of Bristol first pitched the project to City Council in October. Since then, Chmura Economics and Analytics has prepared an independent employment and fiscal impact analysis of a casino resort with hotel, restaurants, entertainment and convention space.

The Chmura study found that the casino would provide a one-time economic impact of $118.7m whilst providing 182 jobs for the renovation and construction of a casino resort. In 2022, the project would generate 2,534 direct and indirect/induced jobs. By 2028, the project would grow to 5,426 direct jobs and 1,408 indirect/induced jobs. In 2022, the project would generate a direct and indirect/induced economic impact of $384.8m.

The project is the brainchild of two local businesses United Company and Par Ventures, with both of them being local businesses, who bought the vacated Bristol Mall earlier this year.

Rob Jones, spokesman for Alliance Group, a lobbying and public relations firm, is handling the lobbying aspect of the proposed project, said: “We welcome the news that Danville City Council has unanimously endorsed the plan to consider a resort and casino for the City. We know first-hand the struggles that Bristol and Southwest Virginia are facing. Danville and Southside Virginia are facing similar economic difficulties. In both Bristol and Danville, a resort and casino would bring thousands of badly-needed jobs, along with millions of dollars in new tax revenue to fund a host of critical needs, including education, public safety and transportation. The General Assembly will consider legislation during its upcoming 2019 Session to make these projects a reality. If the legislation passes, and is signed by Governor Northam, then voters in Bristol and Danville will have the final say, through local referenda, in whether these projects go forward.”

United Company and Par ventures want to spend $150m to bring casino gaming to the state with a 90,000 square foot casino, along with 90,000 square feet dedicated to children’s activities, and 25,000 square feet for sports betting.
Virginia is one of seven states that doesn’t allow casino gambling, but with Governor Northam approving a bill to bring in horse racing and off-track betting at four locations this year, the hope is that casinos will be next.

The development, which wants to attract more than 3m visitors after its first five years of operation, would also include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, restaurants, suites, fitness center, live entertainment, spa, salon, shops, boutiques, goods from artisans and craftsmen, wedding and event venues, family arcade, go-kart racing,a kid’s waterpark, business center, miniature golf, museum of local history, golf and baseball simulators, convention and conference center and even virtual games. It could also include a 600 to 1,000 room hotel on site.

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