RICHMOND, Virginia (WWBT) – A bill to add Petersburg to the list of casino-hosting cities in the Commonwealth cleared its first hurdle in a Senate subcommittee on Thursday.
Dozens of people flocked to the Gaming Subcommittee meeting to voice their concerns that, if SB 780 was approved, the city of Richmond would not allow a re-vote for casinos in River City.
“We have the heart, we have the will and we know we can make it happen,” said one woman who spoke to the committee. , I came with a pure heart, so I wore a white hat, to shine with love, and I wish it was for a moment. St. Petersburg is our city.
Others were concerned, but the casino could add to the ongoing problems in Petersburg.
Another woman said, “I am a resident of the city of Petersburg and this would not be a good move for us as citizens.
Among those who spoke out against the bill were members of the Richmond City Council.
In 2021, voters said no to building a casino on the south side of the city, but they barely did.
City leaders bet that another chance to educate the community about the project would get them the votes they needed to start construction.
“This provides another opportunity to fully articulate the location, impact on city investment, and return on investment,” Rep. Cynthia Newbill told the commission.
Subcommittee members said Richmond had a chance and believed Petersburg should have a chance.
Senator Bryce Reeves said, “I can hear both sides, but I also know you had a chance at bat. I am connecting my comments with my good friend Senator Bell. If Petersburg can’t make it, you might get another hit.
The bill went forward by a vote of 7 to 2.
“The subcommittee said, you know what. Richmond, you had a chance. I said no,” Sen. Joe Morrissey said after the vote. “Let’s give St. Petersburg a chance. That’s the end result.”
Members of the Richmond City Council who opposed the bill feel Senator Morrissey is not representing Richmond and the game is not over yet.
“This was a referendum. How many times can you vote in a referendum,” said Richmond City Councilman Reba Trammell. “You can vote as many times as you like, you can change languages.
St. Petersburg has yet to hit the jackpot. I’m going to the whole committee next week.
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