Goldman, a key figure in history-making politics when he aided Douglas Wilder in becoming the first Black governor of Virginia in 1990, is gearing up to file a lawsuit against the Richmond government. Why? Because he believes they sidestepped the Virginia Public Procurement Act, which mandates competitive bidding for economic development projects. Now, a prominent lawyer and activist like Goldman is aiming to reclaim the name of the lone casino.
Where it all started
Let’s rewind to 2021, when Richmond held a competitive bid for its casino venture. Among five qualifying cities, Richmond emerged as a potential gaming hotspot, thanks to state legislation allowing casinos to boost local economies, but with a catch – local voter approval through a ballot referendum.
However, the original One Casino + Resort plan, spearheaded by Black-owned media conglomerate Urban One and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, didn’t win over Richmonders. They narrowly rejected the proposal by a 51%-49% vote.
But Mayor Levar Stoney and the City Council weren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. They wanted to give it another shot, hoping a better-coordinated pitch highlighting the economic benefits of a Las Vegas-style resort would sway the voters differently. This is not where it all ends, however.
State provision caused less development efforts
Unfortunately, the City Council’s efforts to revisit the casino issue during the 2022 election were blocked by a state provision, but that obstacle has since been cleared. Richmond’s City Council, with an 8-1 vote, decided to put the casino referendum back on the November 2023 ballot. This time, they revived the partnership with Urban One, but with notable changes in the ownership structure.
Back in 2021, Urban One projected itself as the first Black-owned casino in the US. However, in the 2023 revival, the landscape shifted, with Urban One now collaborating with Churchill Downs after acquiring Peninsula Pacific. Their ownership agreement now rests on a 50-50 partnership, replacing the previous plan where Urban One and more than 50 local investors, predominantly minorities, were to own the casino.
Paul Goldman: A legal battle is about to break out
Now, here’s where it gets sticky! Goldman alleges that Mayor Stoney and the City Council have been keeping a crucial ownership change under wraps. Despite this change, securities filings still show a list of local private investors holding a 6% stake in the casino resort.
Goldman insists that the city was obligated to undergo another competitive bid process, especially considering the magnitude of this franchise. Yet, he remains supportive of a second local gaming referendum as long as city residents can make an informed decision.
With a legal battle on the horizon, Richmond’s casino project faces questions over transparency and the evolving ‘Black-owned‘ narrative. Will this lawsuit change the game for Richmond’s casino development? Only time will tell what will happen to the casino’s development, because it’s in a tight position now. Stay tuned as we keep a close eye on the unfolding drama in Virginia’s capital city!
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