United States: On Tuesday, in Virginia, a Senate committee shot down resolutions to institute legislation that would have allowed residents of wealthy suburbs surrounding our national capital city to approve or disapprove the establishment of casino operations. 

Committee Vote and Legislative Postponement 

The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee voted 13-2 against a bill that would have allowed Fairfax County to hold a referendum vote on the construction of a casino with a conference center in Tysons Corner, the area currently occupied by high-end retail or office buildings. 

The committee vote effectively tables the bill for this year’s legislative session yet offers casino supporters a little life that could have been revived in later years. The committee failed to approve a motion to condemn the bill and, therefore, chose to indefinitely postpone the introduced legislation till 2025. 

Committee Chairwoman’s Perspective 

As the committee chairwoman, Sen. L. Louise Lucas had previously told a subcommittee hearing that she wanted to find a way to get updated research on possible tax receipts needed to keep the bill with some changes introduced in this regard. Lucas has been a champion of casino legislation and said at the subcommittee hearing that she is known in the General Assembly as “the casino queen.” 

In the neighborhoods of this proposed casino, many civic groups strongly opposed it, and they wanted an end to how traffic could rotate over there as well as be passionate about crime. 

Others on the state and county level also argued that a casino was contrary. They observed that the act clearly stated that a casino would be situated along the region’s other Silver Line Metrorail stations, which are located at prime real estate by the County for appropriate commercial use. 

Community Opposition and Commercial Concerns 

“This is where Fortune 500 companies have come to make their home,” Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, a casino opponent, said of Tysons Corner. “This is not something that Fortune 500s would like to have in their community.” 

However, the bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax, stated that demand for office space prime has declined since the pandemic, and Fairfax County needs the supplementing power to defend its tax base from being too dependent on the commercial sector alone. 

As for local opposition from neighborhoods, Marsden said that in case of a referendum, the County as a whole would decide whether to benefit from annual revenues brought about by having casinos. 

“No neighborhood wants any kind of development, not really,” Marsden said. “We all know that.” 

Financial Incentives and Revenue Potential 

Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell noted that the casino would generate revenue such an amount which could effectively save each county taxpayer about $500-$60 1 annually. 

A report commissioned in 2019 by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee established that a casino in northern Virginia could bring $155 million annually for taxation compared to all other casinos built based on the width of the population. 

“There aren’t many bills that come before this committee that offer this much potential revenue,” Marsden said. “This absolutely has to be considered.” 

Casino supporters have noted the success of MGM casino in National Harbor, Maryland, which is merely across the Potomac River from Virginia and draws heavily upon northern Virginians as regular traffic. 

Reston Citizens Association, one of the citizen groups that has aligned on this side against casino development, said if proponents make another attempt in 2013, citizens’ opposition to a casino plan only increase. 

“We’re very familiar with long-term battles,” she said. “We’re going to be even stronger next year.” 

Moreover, on Tuesday night, the committee marked up and approved a bill that would permit Petersburg to put on a referendum relating to casinos. 

Five cities in Virginia were approved by a vote in 2020. All the Bristol, Danville, and Portsmouth residents voted for casinos; Richmond voters twice rejected an offer to develop a casino in that city. 

Petersburg, less than ten kilometers south of Richmond, rejected the casino the city yearned to get and host.