Petersburg Casino Legislation Faces Unexpected Setback

Petersburg Governor Glenn Youngkin has sent Senate Bill 628 back to the General Assembly with a recommendation to amend the legislation, indicating that a do-over vote is unnecessary for setting up Petersburg as the fifth casino-host city in Virginia. While this move has raised some concerns, it should not affect the bill’s expected success.

The Legislation Remains on Track

The bill, one of 11 amended by the Governor’s office on Friday, had a hastily added re-enactment clause attached to it, requiring it to be reconsidered by the General Assembly even after the House of Delegates and Senate had approved it in the 2024 regular session. Governor Youngkin was surprised by this sudden update, motivating his decision to mandate a do-over.

By amending the bill instead of vetoing it, Youngkin aims to ensure that it proceeds smoothly through the legislative process and gets in front of Petersburg’s voters this November. Unlike a veto, requiring a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override, an amendment only needs a simple majority, significantly improving Bill 628’s chances.

The Governor’s request for the General Assembly to review the re-enactment clause raised uncertainties about the bill’s fate as the bill’s second vote must happen during a regular or a special session. Lawmakers reconvene later this month, but the casino re-vote cannot occur then. However, a special session later this year could provide another opportunity for the vote.

Petersburg’s Casino Dream May Soon Become Reality

The establishment of Petersburg as the fifth casino-host city aims to bolster the economies of historically disadvantaged communities in Virginia. Although Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond were the state’s original choices, only Richmond did not pass referendums. With Richmond stepping back, Petersburg now has the opportunity to secure the final casino license.

Sen. Lashrecse Aird, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, remained optimistic regarding its chances. She highlighted the importance of allowing Petersburg to obtain the fifth casino license and for citizens to vote in a referendum. Aird was looking forward to hearing the proposals of interested operators, hoping they would bring lasting prosperity to the region.

With the removal of the re-enactment clause, this legislation moves one step closer to final approval to allow Petersburg to obtain the fifth and final license.

Sen. Lashrecse Aird

The move to amend the legislation comes after Governor Youngkin signed bills earlier in the week preventing Richmond from revisiting casino referendums until Petersburg has its chance. An upcoming town hall meeting hosted by Senator Aird will allow citizens to meet the five vendors who have submitted bids for Petersburg’s casino business, indicating the significant progress in the casino licensing process.