Casino contenders now down to 2; Bally’s out
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 4/22/2021, 6 p.m.
Just two contenders are left in the competition to build a casino-resort in Richmond, and one already has corralled the support of a majority of City Council.
A third contender, Bally’s, was dropped from the competition Wednesday. City Hall’s internal evaluation committee announced that, for a variety of reasons, the Rhode Island company’s bid no longer was being considered.
The two proposals left are from Urban One of Silver Spring, Md., which is seeking to open its first casino, and The Cordish Cos. of Baltimore, which wants to expand its Live! brand operation to Richmond.
The departure of Bally’s, however, appears to be another boost for Black-owned Urban One, whose proposed South Side location already has won the most public support.
The company is proposing to develop its ONE Casino+ Resort and recording operation on 100 acres on Walmsley Boulevard near the Philip Morris cigarette factory.
A Free Press informal poll of City Council members indicates that at least six members support Urban One’s bid, which includes an offer to provide the city with an upfront payment of $60 million and an additional share of taxable revenue from gaming if the company is selected.
Cordish wants to install its Live! Casino and Hotel on the Bow Tie Cinema property at Leigh Street and Arthur Ashe Boulevard in North Side. Second District Councilwoman Katherine Jordan, who represents the area, has announced her opposition.
Cordish has offered an additional share of gaming revenue to the city, but has said only that it would provide up to $200 million over 15 years in donations to benefit the community. It has not publicly indicated whether the city would receive an upfront payment should it be selected for the project.
Sources have told the Free Press that Cordish, a real estate development company, likes the site and would consider its development even if it loses the casino bid. The sources also said the company is eager to become the master developer for the city’s 60-acre parcel where The Diamond baseball stadium stands. The city is planning to issue a request for proposals this year.