Danville City Council Supports Casino Legalization Effort


Danville City Council approves resolution that could bring casinos to at least three cash-strapped cities around Virginia

The City Council of Danville, Virginia unanimously passed on Thursday a resolution to support a coordinated effort for the legalization of casino gambling in at least three cities around the state.

The casino push was initiated by the city of Bristol where a local group of investors wants to build a $150-million casino resort at the site of the former Bristol Mall. The Bristol City Council approved a similar resolution in September, arguing that a facility of this kind would come as a major financial boost for the city and its ailing economy. The city of Portsmouth joined the effort in October when its City Councilmen voted in favor of a casino resolution.

The three cities together two Virginia legislators will be seeking to persuade the state Legislature to allow residents of Bristol, Portsmouth, and Danville to vote on whether they want a casino through citywide referenda. Sen. Bill Carrico and Del. Israel O’Quinn have announced plans to introduce a bill on the matter.

The legislative piece will have to pass multiple hurdles in the Legislature and to be signed by Gov. Ralph Northam before taking effect and allowing voters from the above-mentioned three cities to decide on the future of existing and to-be-introduced casino proposals.

While Bristol is currently the only city of all three to have an actual plan for a casino, Portsmouth and now Danville have voiced their support the effort due to the economic potential of an establishment of this kind.

Commenting on yesterday’s approval of the resolution, Danville Councilman Sherman Saunders told local media that his economically distressed city needs a financial boost and that a casino in Danville could generate revenue for new schools, improvements to the city’s law enforcement and fire services, and infrastructure upgrades, among other things.

Estimated Impact and Feedback from Residents

According to an indipendent report by research house Chmura Economics and Analytics, a casino in Bristol could create 5,426 direct and 1,408 indirect jobs and could generate economic impact of nearly $1 billion by 2028.

Analysts project massive economic impact and thousands of new jobs for Danville, if a casino opens doors in the city. Similar projections were made for Portsmouth, as well. All three cities have been struggling with financial issues that have, in turn, triggered other issues, such as a decrease in population, for years.

Following Thursday’s vote on the casino resolution, Danville officials said that the measure has also been met with overwhelming support from residents of the city. While it seems that the majority of citizens favor a casino, there have also been negative comments in relation to the push. Residents have cited concerns over increased crime and gambling-related social issues that could arise from the construction of a casino within city limits.

Sen. Carrico and Del. O’Quinn have begun work on their bill and plan to introduce it early into the legislative session. Virginia lawmakers are set to reconvene on January 9.

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