Pamunkey tribe hoping for high-stakes gambling in Virginia

Virginia

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe is rolling out plans to introduce high-stakes gambling in Virginia.

Gambling in any form has been illegal in Virginia for over a century, but things could be about to take a big turn. With the backing of a billionaire investor with years of experience in Indian gaming, the tribe has acquired three adjacent parcels of land in the state capital Richmond and one in the port city of Norfolk, where they want to develop multi-million-dollar resort casinos.

The tribe’s plans are to open several high end multi-million gambling resorts on these plots and provide high-stake casino gaming to Virginia residents. However, the Pamunkey Tribe are not the only party wanting to break ground and get involved in the casino business in the Old Dominion. It is being reported that there are several parties with similar ideas, so the tribe will need to convince residents that their proposal is the best one.

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Tribe to invest over $1Billion in Casinos

When we delve a little deeper into the specifics of the plans, there are some huge numbers being bandied around. If the voters approve the project, the tribe hopes to bring a $350-million gambling resort to the state capital Richmond and invest $700 million to build the casino in the port town of Norfolk. Massive numbers but the hope is that in turn the resorts will bring a tourism spike and new visitors to Virginia. Indeed, the tribe’s chief Robert Gray explained the Pamunkey want to work toward boosting tourism in these areas, hoping to attract more visitors to the Old Dominion with their casinos. As part of the plan, a special center is proposed in one of the three Richmond parcels where future casino employees will undergo preparatory training.

Mr Gray was also keen to stress that with the aid of the casinos, the gambling revenue generated will facilitate health care, education, employment, and housing both for the tribe and the local community. News which will go down well with local residents. The tribe insist the Casinos will be used as a vehicle to improve things for the local community. A health center or grocery store has been earmarked for Richmond, with both badly needed.

Also needed are assisted living facilities for the local aging population. Both tribe and non-tribe seniors will be accepted in the living facilities, a spokesperson for the tribe stressed. According to Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell, Senator of Colorado from 1993 to 2005, the Pamunkey could potentially generate significant revenue with their plans.

What does the future hold?

The current state of play in Virginia is that gambling isn’t legal. Last year, Virginia lawmakers passed a bill authorizing gaming in five cities, including Richmond. But that bill contained a re-enactment clause, meaning it needs to pass in this year’s general assembly, which currently is in session. It is expected to issue a decision imminently.

The case will be put to a referendum in November, however, giving voters final say about who should build the Richmond casino. So, the tribe will need to work hard to gain the trust of voters. However, if the tribe isn’t successful, not everything is lost. If the plans get rejected, the tribe will then apply to the Interior Department to place the land they’ve purchased into a trust, as it falls inside the boundaries of the Pamunkey’s ancestral holdings. This would allow the Pamunkey to open their own federally licensed casino, giving the state limited legal and regulatory authority over their gaming operations.

They remain confident that this step will not be needed, with a Tribe spokesperson saying We have extreme confidence that we would get a favorable quick review on our application, since most of the legwork was already done when we applied for federal recognition.

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