Campaign for casino in Norfolk, Virginia is heating up
Virginia opened its doors to casinos and sports gambling earlier this year and set forth establishing how the local markets could possibly work. The idea has been to allow five casinos – in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond, all areas that are considered in need of economic stimulus – as long as the local communities approved. With the Pamunkey Indian Tribe clearly hopeful to be able to build a casino in Norfolk, and with elections only two months away, it’s digging in and increasing its public campaigns in order to drum up support from area residents. The tribe is getting some additional help, as Norfolk’s mayor, Kenneth Alexander, is lending his name to the campaign, as well.
Should the project be approved following November 3, the Pamunkey want to take 13.4 acres of land east of the Harbor Park baseball stadium and turn it into a complex that would include a casino, a 300-key hotel, a spa, entertainment areas, a sportsbook and more. The tribe is ready to invest as much as $500 million to make the dream a reality, but it’s up to the local residents to make the final decision when they take the polls on or before November 3.
It’s expected that the casino would help the area pick up as much as $51 million each year that can be sued for public schools, as well as another $25 million for Norfolk to add to its city budget. The tribe will pay $10 million for the property, and the money will be used specifically to renovate two high schools in the area, Maury and Booker T. Washington.
The only big obstacle the Pamunkey tribe has to jump is the fact that it has never operated a commercial casino. Norfolk’s leadership put pressure on the tribe by authorizing the Harbor Park site only if the tribe agreed to a commercial operation that is subject to all the normal taxes that would be expected from commercial casinos – tribal casinos are exempt from most of these. The tribe agreed and found major support from Jon Yarbrough, the founder of Video Gaming Technologies, who is also behind the project. With a net worth of $2.6 billion, according to Forbes, he’s going to prove to be a vital source of funding, as well as experience and connections in the gaming industry.