With Potomac Yards failure, St. Petersburg casino opportunities may increase

Petersburg has an increased opportunity to ask residents if they support a commercial casino in Virginia City.

Apr 8, 2024
3 min read
Billionaire Ted Leonsis announced on March 27 that he would meet with Washington, D.C. Mayor
Billionaire Ted Leonsis announced on March 27 that he would meet with Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council President Phil Mendelson ), keeping its Washington, D.C., professional sports teams in the nation's capital. If Leonsis stays in Washington, the chances of Petersburg, Virginia, being allowed to open a casino may


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With Potomac Yards failure, St. Petersburg casino opportunities may increase

Petersburg got the chance yesterday to ask residents if they support the potential for a commercial casino resort to be built in the Virginia city after billionaire Ted Leonsis announced he would build a professional sports team in Washington.

It's the latest political defeat for Virginia Gov. Glenn Yonkin (R), a once rising star in the Republican Party who suffered a major blow in the 2023 election when Democrats regained control of the state's House of Representatives and expanded their control of the chamber. control. Leonsis said yesterday that he will remain at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Youngkin had tried to lure Leonsis and his NBA's Washington Wizards, NHL's Washington Capitals and WNBA's Washington Mystics to Alexandria with a $2 billion sports and entertainment complex.

Leonsis agreed to stay in the nation's capital after Washington, D.C., officials offered him $515 million for renovations and improvements.

I look at the results, not the process, and we got the right results," Leonsis said while keeping Washington's sports teams in Washington.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), an unpopular mayor because of the city's growing illegality and homelessness, said the city has committed more than $500 million , will become the leader of the "modern urban stage".

Younkin Bargaining Chip

Virginia lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year designating Petersburg for a casino license. The political push comes after Richmond voters twice rejected casino referendums.

St. Petersburg city officials and the public support development as a casino destination. However, Youngkin has not yet said whether he will sign the bill.

There were rumors that Youngkin delayed signing the casino bill until Senate President Pro Tempore Louis Lucas (D-Portsmouth), one of the state's most powerful Democrats, expressed strong opposition to the alleged bill. The plan, known as Alexander Arena, abandoned the Potomac Yards entertainment area. Lucas was a co-sponsor of the Petersburg casino law.

Youngkin denies reports that he will block St. Petersburg casino bill until more Democrats support Potomac Yards. Now that the project has failed, the bargaining power (if any) no longer exists.

Of course, Youngkin was upset that the General Assembly failed to include the Potomac Yards project in the state budget and that Leonsis abandoned the governor's legacy project.

Virginians deserve better. "A unique project that brought together world-class athletes and the entertainment industry, created 30,000 jobs and generated $12 billion in economic activity has just come to naught," Youngkin said in a statement.

"This transformational project will spur investment in every corner of the Commonwealth. This was supposed to be our deal and our opportunity, and the General Assembly could just say, 'Thank you, Monument, for your willingness to come to Virginia and create a $12 billion economy Invest, let's fix this. "Political agendas blocked a deal with no upfront general fund dollars and no tax increases that would have created tens of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in revenue for Virginia," the governor added. "

The clock is ticking

The Virginia Constitution requires the governor to act on any legislation sent to him within 30 days of receipt. Younkin has until April 8 at 11:59 p.m. ET to respond to the Peterborough casino bill.

If he signs the measure or allows it to become law without his signature, local governments in St. Petersburg will be able to bid to build casinos.

Once the project is approved, the proposal will go before voters in November, with only a simple majority needed to support the game plan moving forward.

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