Petersburg Council Unanimously Supports Casino Resort Inquiry

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Amidst the hushed chambers of the Petersburg City Council on Tuesday, a resolution thrummed with renewal, marking a critical stride towards transforming the city’s economic landscape. The council’s vote was decisive—a unanimous echo rallying for the right to query the citizens’ views on embracing a commercial casino resort within Petersburg’s heart. Cradled 25 miles south of Virginia’s bustling Richmond capital, the city now steers its course towards commercial gambling privileges it hopes to secure by 2024.

March had seen Richmond’s electorate cast a resounding ‘no’ to a similar resort proposition, sending Urban One, a Black-focused media conglomerate and its partner, Churchill Downs, back to the drawing board. This rejection—the second following a 2021 refutal—prompted Richmond to all but abandon its casino aspirations. Spurred by this retreat, Petersburg revived its own ambitions for a gaming haven—a move that necessitates finessing the state’s 2020 gaming law.

“Petersburg’s distressed locality status urgently calls for innovative economic solutions,” the council’s gaming resolution underscored, glimpsing at a future where the clink of slot machines and the whirl of roulette wheels might spell prosperity for its residents.

Conversations around Petersburg’s potential as a casino host are not fresh off the presses; indeed, they hark back to legislative efforts led by state Sen. Joe Morrissey the preceding year, which foundered in the legislative labyrinth. Now, the resolution sets in motion intricate dances between city officials and state legislators to shape a bill, paving the way for Petersburg voters to face a pivotal referendum in 2025.

Virginia’s gaming bill of 2020, penned as an economic pacesetter, flagged five cities including Richmond and Petersburg to gauge public waters on the casino question. While Richmond retreated, others welcomed their gambling prospects with open arms. To witness are Rivers Casino Portsmouth’s neon glow and the placeholder establishments in Bristol and Danville, where permanent casino resorts are under birth pangs. Norfolk’s gaming future wavers in the balance, with its backers still threading paths through promises and plans.

Petersburg’s council members are banking on this gambit, pointing to Bristol and Danville’s successes. Here, casinos operated by gaming behemoths—Hard Rock International and Caesars Entertainment—have unfurled fountains of tax dollars and unleashed a spate of gainful employment, propelling local economies upwards from their stagnation.

The allure of immediate tax streams is compelling. The Bristol and Danville casinos—though yet impermanent—have already lavished their cities with a fiscal bounty. Hard Rock Bristol, for instance, has delivered a roar of millions in gross gaming revenue since opening its interim establishment on July 8, 2022. Equally impressive is Danville’s Caesars pavilion tent casino, a money magnet since its inception in May.

The question of casino viability, scrutinized in a study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, hedged on probability—casinos could thrive separately in Richmond and Petersburg but would siphon each other’s fortunes if they coexisted.

As fervent advocates for Petersburg’s foray into the casino realm, such as the city’s Mayor Samuel Parham, envision the glitz of casinos transforming the city’s visage, the Cordish Companies stand ready to wager on such dreams. With a $1.4 billion resort blueprint in the offing, the potential for economic revitalization and job creation looms tantalizingly within reach.

But beyond these local movements and the evolution of brick-and-mortar gaming landscapes lie digital realms unbound by geography—realms where the thrills of the casino can be experienced with the simplicity of a click. It’s in these online casinos that a universe of slots, table games, and roulette wheels spin relentlessly, beckoning players to taste the casino spirit from anywhere at any time.

For our Canadian readers curious about exploring these digital spaces, we at West Island Blog have curated a list of the [top online casinos](https://www.westislandblog.com/online-casinos/) for this month—a carefully vetted constellation of virtual establishments where you can safely place your bets, test your fortune, and potentially reap lavish rewards. It might just be your next move in the ever-expanding world of gaming.

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Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education. She is a writing instructor at The Cummings Centre. She writes a weekly column in The Suburban Newspaper and at the West Island Blog. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban Newspaper, West Island Blog, Wise Women Canada, The Metropolitain, and Women on the Fence. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. Visit suzannereislerlitwin.com to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.

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