November 9, 2023
Urban One, a media company with aspirations of building a casino in Richmond, Virginia, has suffered a setback as its second attempt at securing approval for the project has failed. The referendum on the Richmond Grand Resort & Casino saw a decisive outcome, with 61% of voters rejecting the $562 million proposal. This is a significant increase from the 51% of voters who were against the project in 2021.
Despite partnering with Churchill Downs Incorporated and investing an estimated $10 million in campaigning, Urban One was unable to sway public opinion in its favor. The news of the failed vote had a significant impact on Urban One's stock, which plummeted by 38.94% in just 24 hours.
However, Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins has already revealed a contingency plan. In an interview, Liggins mentioned the nearby town of Petersburg as a potential alternative location for the casino. He warned that if the casino is built in Petersburg, Richmond will not receive any tax revenue, although its residents will still make up a significant portion of the customer base.
The City of Richmond had projected that the casino would create 1,300 job opportunities and generate around $30 million in annual revenue for the city's General Fund. However, opponents of the casino, such as the No Means No Casino group led by former state Democratic Party Chair Paul Goldman, argue that the negative impact of the project outweighs these potential benefits.
In addition to public opposition, Urban One also faced criticism for insensitive content aired on its Richmond stations. A host on 99.5 The Box made antisemitic comments about Goldman, and recordings of divisive language from the Richmond Grand Casino Update show were shared by the No Means No Casino group.
Despite this setback, Urban One remains determined to pursue its casino plans. The company's CEO has made it clear that the project will go forward, albeit in a different location. The outcome of this failed vote serves as a reminder of the challenges and controversies surrounding the casino industry, and the importance of considering the concerns and opinions of the local community.
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