Earlier this week, a public hearing was held at Norfolk, Virginia. Mayor Kenny Alexander announced essential changes to the efforts of the city to be home to a casino. This includes plans to request that the Pamunkey Indian Tribe open a commercial gaming property rather than a tribal one.

In September this year, the Pamunkey tribe came to an agreement to pay a sum of $10 million to buy a waterfront property from the city. This paved the way to site an Integrated Resort (IR) at the Harbor Park area alongside the Elizabeth River.

At that moment, the Pamunkey tribe was undecided if it would go for a tribal or commercial gaming center. The reason is that tribal casinos get more favorable federal tax dealings when compared to commercial gaming venues.

According to reports from Casino.org, there’s no need to worry anymore as Alexander has made the decision for the Pamunkey tribe. At the same time, they significantly scaled back the size of the casino project that would be situated in Norfolk.

After the study by JLARC and coming to the realization that the project’s scope will alter the commercial route – it was smart for both the City of Norfolk and Pamunkey Tribe. This statement was made by Tommy Smigiel, a Councilman in a post on Facebook.

The study Tommy Smigiel was referring to is the Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) inquiry. This is a 200-page report that was released last month. It examined the gaming growth in the state.

Lesser Expectations

The review by JLARC, it concluded that more casino gaming options would work in Virginia. They also warned stakeholders and cities against creating expectations that were unreasonable.

At first, the Pamunkey Tribe and Norfolk City hoped for a gaming property worth $700 million. They hoped it would create about 3,500 permanent jobs with a yearly payroll of $141 million. This would generate an annual revenue of $825 million, and an estimated $33 million would be earned by the city in taxes.

Alexander disclosed at a public hearing that the massive project would probably be valued at $200 million and would create about 1,000 jobs. Changes were also made to the funding formula of the revenue.

Another advantage is that this prospective revenue that could be gotten under the new revenue funding formula that was created for Norfolk Public Schools. This way, it wouldn’t need to have a separate agreement that would state where the tax revenue would go, Smigiel said.

In September, the agreement between the city and the tribe must be changed to show a lower tax rate than the 4% promised with the hefty $700 million price tag.

There’s Still Work To Be Done

Casino gaming is still banned in Virginia, but this may change soon. There’s a push for legislation to change that. The bill is sponsored by Senator Louise Lucas.

If the bill is approved, it will give voters in the cities of Danville, Bristol, Portsmouth, Richmond and Norfolk – the places where gaming properties are located in Virginia– a chance to reject or approve the plans when they vote in 2020.

Basheera Manaar is a freelance writer covering news related to Land Based Casinos in United States. When she is not informing you about the gambling world, you will find her busy interacting with nature, people and animals. She recently graduate from Nairobi University with a degree in Journalism.

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