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News 3 projects: Norfolk residents vote 'yes' to resort, casino

Casino controversy forces Norfolk city leaders to listen
Posted at 10:07 AM, Nov 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-04 23:21:50-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk residents are projected to have voted to become a host city for a resort and casino.

With about 95% of the in-person votes counted, the Norfolk Resort & Casino is on track to win by an approximate 2:1 margin.

The proposed site is about 14 acres of land near Harbor Park along the banks of the Elizabeth River. It would be operated by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

“While every vote deserves to be counted, the residents of Norfolk have made it clear that they are excited about a resort and casino coming to the Mermaid City,” said Jay Smith, Spokesman for the Norfolk Resort & Casino. The waterfront resort and casino will be built by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe on the Elizabeth River next to Harbor Park.

“We are moved beyond words by the tremendous display of support we’ve received from the Norfolk community,” said Robert Gray, Chief of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. “To everyone who advocated on our behalf, shared our message with their friends and neighbors, put up a yard sign, wore a sticker or simply voted YES, we cannot thank you enough. We look forward to working with you to make Norfolk even stronger for decades to come.”

The goal for the casino is for 90% of its employees to be local and 50% to be minorities. No tax money is currently involved.

The tribe’s spokesman, Jay Smith, said the project is expected to create 2,500 permanent jobs and attract more than six million tourists a year, creating an economic boom for Norfolk and the region. He said the state would get $50 million in casino revenue every year for schools. Another $30 million would be generated annually in taxes paid to the host city of Norfolk.

Opposition group Informed Norfolk started an initiative against the casino, pointing to a study that says the jobs it would create are low-wage and that it would create social problems.

The next step for the project includes obtaining the necessary permits from the city and announcing the construction team. The Pamunkey Indian Tribe is plans to break ground in early spring 2021 and to have the project completed by the end of 2022.

The $500 million resort will include a 300-room hotel, entertainment venue, spa, pool, multiple restaurants and a gaming floor for the casino.

Click here for election results.