Making the pitch

The Cordish Companies, the owner of the Live! brand of casinos around the United States, has unveiled a new proposal for a mixed-used development – which includes a casino – in Petersburg, Virginia. The 400,000-square-foot Live! Casino & Hotel Virginia in Petersburg would cost an estimated $1.4 billion to build.

The casino would have 1,600 slot machines, 46 live dealer table games, a poker room, and a sportsbook. The rest of the property would feature a 200-room hotel, a concert venue, and eight restaurants and bars, among other amenities.

Cordish has partnered with former Virginia Tech and Buffalo Bills football legend Bruce Smith and his Bruce Smith Enterprise as a co-development partner. It is hoping that Smith’s involvement can give them the edge they need to beat out the other four casino contenders.

“Working as a developer in the state for over 20 years, I’m confident that Bruce Smith Enterprise and The Cordish Companies are the right partners for this undertaking, because we share the same vision and understand the needs of the City of Petersburg and its citizens, said the Pro Football Hall of Famer in a press release on Monday. “Together we can do remarkable work in Petersburg that will transform lives, restore hope, and ultimately imbue a new energy of revitalization that will be felt for generations. Our proposal represents a historic opportunity to prioritize the Petersburg community and put Virginians first.”

Richmond done

Petersburg got to this point as the front-runner for a fifth Virginia casino after multiple attempts to get one in the state capital of Richmond failed. In 2020, the state legislature approved a bill to allow for five casinos in the state. To date, casinos have been opened in Bristol, Danville, and Portsmouth, with one on the way in Norfolk.

Twice, though, referendums that put the casino issue to public vote failed in Richmond. In 2021, it was extremely close, 51-49% against, but last year, it was a landslide, with “no’s” outnumbering “yes’s” 62-38%.

Casino supporters wanted a third vote at some point, but that dream died earlier this month when Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a series of bills that both removed Richmond from the list of possible cities for a casino and required three years between failed casino votes. Youngkin also suggested removing the requirement for a second Petersburg casino vote by state lawmakers, effectively putting the city first in line for the last of Virginia’s casino locations.

State officials must still give Petersburg the thumbs-up, but there is no indication that they won’t. Once the city is green-lit, it will select one of the five casino proposals and then hold a referendum.

One Comment

  1. Dennis says:

    I think the only viable offer is from Cordish. Ballys is having serious financial difficulties (lowered credit rating) and it is currently unable to finance its project in Chicago. The Warrenton group has no financing and have a bifurcated strategy which doesn’t make sense not to mention they have no casino development experience. Penn Gaming is also experiencing financial struggles with their significant over commitment to ESPN Bet so I also don’t see them being financially capable to pull it off. Then there’s Rush Street which poses some real problems. First, it still has not broke ground on their hotel in Portsmouth which lends itself to question their commitment to their promises. However, most important is their conflict. Portsmouth is only 74 miles from Petersburg. There is a great risk of their Portsmouth casino cannibalizing the Petersburg casino and taking much needed tax revenue from the City of Petersburg or never fully developing Petersburg because it eliminates its competition with Portsmouth.

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