Virginia: Petersburg hires Cordish Companies as development partner

October 19, 2022 11:48 AM
Photo: Richmond (Top) and Petersburg (Bottom) locations on a map
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports
October 19, 2022 11:48 AM
  • Rege Behe, CDC Gaming Reports

The City of Petersburg Tuesday announced the selection of The Cordish Companies as development partner for a proposed casino, which could become Virginia’s fifth or sixth confirmed commercial casino.

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“An important part of our evaluation was to identify a development partner with a proven track record in developing and operating mixed-use and casino properties, a long history of revitalizing cities across the country, and strong community engagement practices,” said City of Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham in a statement. “The development of a casino in Petersburg is a once in a generation opportunity to set the course for economic growth for decades to come. We are confident that we have selected the ideal partner in The Cordish Companies to bring to fruition our vision for Petersburg.”

“The Cordish Companies is honored and excited to have been selected by the City of Petersburg as development partners on this transformative project,” said Cordish Companies Chief Operating Officer Zed Smith. ” … We share Governor (Glen) Youngkin, Mayor Parham and the Petersburg City Council’s commitment to create a world-class entertainment destination and mixed-use project with gaming that will generate millions of dollars in tax revenues and spinoff economic development, create thousands of new jobs and benefits to the local community, and become a major new tourist destination for the city.”

Due to Peterburg’s close proximity to Richmond, the bid is seen as competing with Richmond’s Urban One partnership which failed to appear on this year’s ballot. The Virginia General Assembly will decide if both planned casinos — or just one — will head to voters in 2023.

As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Richmond, filed legislation to make Petersburg the fifth casino location in Central Virginia and eliminate Richmond as a site. Petersburg and Richmond are 23.6 miles apart.

“We are not interested in two regional casinos,” Morrissey told the newspaper in a phone interview. “We want a destination resort in Petersburg. If there are two casinos 25 miles from each other, they would cannibalize each other.”

The development agreement comes a day after a study was released about the proposed Petersburg casino. Commissioned by the state’s Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission and produced by The Innovation Group, “Feasibility and State and Local Revenue Impacts of Locating a Casino in the City of Petersburg” looks at three scenarios:

  • A casino is authorized and opens in Petersburg in 2027 and completes a full year of operation in 2028
  • A casino is authorized and opens Richmond in 2027 and completes a full year of operation in 2028
  • Casinos in both Petersburg and Richmond are authorized

According to the study, gaming revenue in Virginia is estimated to increase by 18% to $977.1 million with the addition of a casino in Petersburg; by 29% to $1.07 billion from the addition of a casino in Richmond; and to $1.13 billion, a 36% increase, with the addition of casinos in Petersburg and Richmond.

Currently casinos are approved, and development is underway, in four Virginia municipalities: Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.

The study also estimated a single casino in Richmond would generate annual revenue of $299.8 million compared to $203.5 million for a single casino in Petersburg. If both casinos are built, revenue from the Richmond site would be $248.6 million annually, and $140.3 million in Petersburg.