After the Native American group signed land and gaming agreements with the city council, the Norfolk casino resort proposal from the state’s Pamunkey Indian Tribe is moving ahead.
The land agreement permits the tribe to buy 13.4 acres of vacant property on the east of Harbor Park for $750,000 per acre. That puts the overall land price at a slightly over $10 million.
The gaming agreement requires the casino to be a commercial operation that pays taxes on gaming, lodging, food and beverage, and other sales. The resort will also be required to pay property taxes, as well as admission taxes.
As reported by casino.org, in a statement, Norfolk City Manager Dr. Larry ‘Chip’ Filer said, “I am pleased to announce that we have reached mutually agreeable terms with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to pursue a resort project that will conform and comply with commercial gaming legislation being considered in Virginia.”
The Pamunkey’s reservation is situated approximately 25 miles east of Richmond in West Point on the Pamunkey River.
The Pamunkey Indian Tribe has joined with Tennessee businessman Jon Yarbrough, who amassed wealth through his company, Video Gaming Technologies (VGT). In October of 2014, the gaming manufacturer was bought by Aristocrat Leisure for almost $1.3 billion.
Yarbrough claims he’s worked with around 35 tribes and their casinos across the United States. Forbes assesses his net worth at $2.2 billion.
Yarbrough told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “I have worked with countless tribes and I know what it takes for a project like this to be successful. I am confident that with the Pamunkey tribe’s strategic approach, resolve and sense of community, coupled with our financial strength, they can bring about a number of projects of which the tribe and the Commonwealth can be proud.”
The tribe will enter into the gaming arena through the Norfolk casino. Although initial proposals called for the project to equal $700 million, the scope of the development has been scaled back – now $200 million is now a probable investment.
The Virginia General Assembly has to pass commercial gambling regulations before the casino can open. In case they do, local voters still need to sign-off on letting a casino in their hometown through a referendum.
Last year, the state passed a bill to study the effect casinos would have on places that meet a number of qualifying criteria. Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Richmond, and Norfolk meet the requirements.
If the state grants license to Norfolk casino resort, the tribal partnership will be responsible to cover all costs related with transportation infrastructure, in addition to flood mitigation, offsite utility improvements, “and any other infrastructure improvements directly necessary.”
Moreover, the tribe will pay for construction of the Elizabeth River Trail to travel around the resort.
The state will determine taxes on slot machine and table games. That comprises the amount of tax money which is allocated to remain in Norfolk.