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Bally’s misses out as City of Richmond cuts casino resort shortlist to two


Bally’s Corporation’s bid to build a new casino resort in the City of Richmond, Virginia has failed after it missed out on the final shortlist of proposed operators for the facility.

Last month, Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort was named alongside Live! Casino & Hotel Richmond from the Cordish Companies and One Casino + Resort from Maryland-based media business Urban One as the three proposals that the City of Richmond was considering to run the casino.

However, after the City Council’s Evaluation Panel held negotiations with the three finalists, it reduced its shortlist of potential operators, with Bally’s missing out on the final cut, leaving only Live! and One Casino + Resort.

The Panel has set a target of recommending an approved operator and site to the Council in mid-to-late May. Should the recommended operator be selected by City Council, residents will vote on its proposal in a referendum.

“We appreciate Bally’s interest to develop a resort casino project in Richmond,” director of Richmond’s Department of Economic Development, Leonard Sledge, said. “The Evaluation Panel is no longer considering the Bally’s project or the Parkway Crossings site for a resort casino due to concerns about site access, environmental factors, and required approvals from non-city entities that may not be granted or extend the project timeline.

“We also appreciate the many Richmond citizens who have shared their thoughts throughout this process.”

Six proposals had initially been put forward to the Panel, including submissions from Golden Nugget, Wind Creek Hospitality and Pamunkey Indian Tribe & Reservation, but these did not make the three-operator shortlist published in March.

Bally’s revealed its proposal in February, setting out how the new $650m facility would span 1.6m sq ft and include a casino with 2,500 slot machines, 90 table games, 30 poker tables and a high-limit gaming area.

Other on-site amenities would have included a sportsbook, 250-room hotel, 13 food and beverage venues, retail outlets and a flexible space for live entertainment and conferences.

Last week, Bally’s also said it would provide the opportunity for all residents of Richmond, Virginia to purchase an equity interest in the resort.

Reacting to the news, Bally’s president and chief executive George Papanier said while the operator was disappointed with the decision, if the City were to reconsider its decision, it would be keen to reengage in the project.

“We are the best operator to partner with the City on this endeavour and provided the largest financial package with the most economic benefit to RVA residents and business owners,” Papanier said. “We were deeply committed to this project, as well as to becoming a responsible neighbour and member of the Richmond community.”

Papanier added that the operator’s plans to launch an online sports betting platform in the state remain unchanged. Last month, Bally’s Bet.Works sports betting platform secured approval to operate in Virginia.

“Though we stand by the fact that our bid was objectively the strongest, we respect the City’s decision, and look forward to providing our best-in-class online sports betting platform to sports fans across the State of Virginia under our recently awarded temporary sports wagering permit,” he said.