Petersburg Fields Five Responses to Casino Request for Proposal

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Petersburg Fields Five Responses to Casino Request for Proposal

Five firms expressed interest in potentially collaborating with the Virginia town on the establishment of a casino resort, in response to the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Petersburg City Council and ending last month.

This year, after the capital's citizens twice rejected becoming a casino attraction, state legislators decided to move the license for the Richmond casino around 25 miles south to Petersburg. It's expected that state legislators will soon designate Petersburg as a casino host, joining Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville, and Bristol already.

This Monday, Governor Glenn Younkin (R) sent legislation to the General Assembly that would allow the city to become a casino despite its dire economic situation. 

The governor requested that the reenactment language be removed from the House of Delegates and Senate. This condition required state lawmakers to vote on the Petersburg casino designation again before a municipal referendum could be held.

In order to determine interest, Petersburg officials released the casino RFP in February. Five responses were sent to the city, and a few of them are well-known casino operators and developers around the country. 

Few Responses

The Cordish Companies, Penn Entertainment, Bally's Corporation, Rush Street Gaming, and The Warrenton Group are the five businesses that answered the request for proposals.

One of the biggest developers and operators of regional casinos in the country, Penn Entertainment is headquartered in Pennsylvania. The Hollywood casino brand serves as the company's primary operating name.

With its main office in Baltimore, Cordish proposed a $1.4 billion mixed-use project with an integrated resort casino for Petersburg in 2022. Four Live!-branded casinos are run by Cordish in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Located in Rhode Island, Bally's is building a $1.1 billion casino in Chicago's downtown area. However, the business is having financial difficulties and has recently had many credit downgrades.

With its headquarters located in Chicago, Rush Street Gaming is the owner and operator of Rivers Casino Portsmouth. The business also manages the Rivers casinos in New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

According to its website, Warrenton, a real estate company with offices in Washington, DC, has created more than $1 billion worth of real estate and is a "innovator" in the development of "mixed-income and market-rate housing." It has no holdings in casinos.


Who's the Favorite, Cordish?

In 2021 and 2022, state legislators considered granting Petersburg a casino license. Petersburg teamed up with Cordish during that period, and the business presented a $1.4 billion project that was to be constructed over a number of years and phases.

During those legislative sessions, the Petersburg attempts were eventually abandoned by the Virginia General Assembly. Petersburg came under fire for allegedly working out a backroom agreement with the Live! casino operator and failing to submit a competitive proposal for its potential casino.

This time, city officials are acting with greater transparency. Cordish thinks it still offers Petersburg, a city dominated by Black people, the best chance. 

To support its position, Cordish has teamed up with Bruce Smith, an NFL Hall of Famer. Throughout his illustrious 19-year career, Smith, a native of Norfolk, played for the Buffalo Bills and Washington Commanders.

Smith, whose playing career ended in 2003, says Petersburg officials should select a developer with Virginia links. Smith entered the real estate market.

According to a Cordish press release, Smith stated, "Outsourcing a project of this magnitude to a visiting developer with no ties or interest in uplifting the community will do little to fix the problem." "We must be given the opportunity to strengthen our communities from within if we are to change outcomes for historically marginalized and disenfranchised populations."