A new survey is seeking feedback from people living in Virginia’s capital city to help the commonwealth decide one of the locations and operators for multiple planned gaming resorts that are expected to bring lucrative economic development. The survey follows criticism from African American business leaders that they and local residents have been virtually excluded from Virginia’s plans for a casino.

The online survey can be found by clicking here and encourages residents and business owners in Richmond to answer 11 key questions “on what the City should look for in an operator and site for a resort casino.” The survey will only be available through Dec. 14.

It is part of the process to get a casino referendum on the ballot in an election next year.

Virginia plans to open five casinos throughout the commonwealth, but this survey is only regarding the one for Richmond.

The other cities where casino resorts are expected to be built include Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth, which all have significant Black populations. However, there appears to have been no opportunity for Black people and Black-owned businesses in Virginia to participate in the economic development aspect of the ambitious legislation that residents will ultimately vote on.

Early estimates projected a cash windfall of nearly $1 billion in annual revenue from the casinos and the generation of more than $260 million from taxes, all while creating thousands of new jobs. But there are still questions about how the local Black population would be considered when it came to those jobs or the opportunities in casino management, construction, service contracts or other investment ventures.

Urban One Inc., a Black-owned business that operates media organizations across the country as well as in Virginia, said the commonwealth must consider diversity and inclusion when it comes to key decisions surrounding plans for its casinos.

Aside from Urban One, the only other minority participation in the Virginia casinos process has been that of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe which, by one state estimation, has about 200 members. That population stood in stark contrast to the number of Black people in Virginia (20 percent of the state’s more than 3.5 million residents). It also paled in comparison to the Black populations of each of the five cities where the casinos have been planned. The Colonial Downs Group, which is white-owned, operated and based in Virginia despite ties to a company in Chicago, also wants to be considered.

“Economic opportunity is the driver for a better way of life for African Americans. Casinos in Virginia’s Black Communities will create Billions of dollars in value from jobs, construction, service contracts and Investment profits. The African American community deserves the right to participate in the value creation generated from its own revenues! This opportunity should not just go to Indian Tribes and out of state billionaires,” Cathy Hughes, Urban One’s founder, and Alfred Liggins, Urban One’s CEO, said in a statement earlier this year.

They urged Black people living in Richmond, in particular, to not only take the survey but to also contact elected officials because they claim Virginia’s Black residents and eligible Black-owned businesses are missing out on what could be a fruitful economic opportunity.

“Email or call your state legislators and the Governor’s office to say that ‘Black economic inclusion in Virginia Casinos matters!’, Hughes and Liggins also said in their statement.

Members of the Virginia General Assembly can be found by clicking here. The contact information for the office of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam can be found by clicking here.

The survey can be taken by clicking here.


Virginia’s Black Residents, Businesses Left Out Of Lucrative Casino Plans

New Casino Survey Asks For Feedback As Virginia Determines Gaming Site Amid Diversity Criticism  was originally published on