RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — At a community meeting on Richmond’s Southside Thursday evening, Urban ONE’s chief executive Alfred Liggins told community members that the company no longer supports holding a casino referendum this November.
Liggins, Urban ONE CEO, said the state budget language “has created a conflict, a legal conflict and a huge cloud of doubt” over efforts to hold a second vote on the casino.
But a state budget amendment passed earlier this year and championed by State Senator Joe Morrissey bars the city from holding another referendum until 2023, giving the state a chance to conduct a study on the potential benefits of locating a casino in Petersburg.
Kathy Hughes, founder of Urban ONE and Liggins’ mother, said Morrissey “has left Richmond on the curb.”
For months, the casino referendum hung in limbo, as the city explored its options, but at a community event hosted by city councilwoman Reva Trammell, a staunch proponent of the casino, Liggins called on the city to give up on holding another referendum this year.
He said Urban ONE has “elected to ask our partners in the city to request the court unwind the court order” and focus on holding a referendum in 2023.
Liggins also added that he didn’t believe a “protracted legal battle” was in the city’s interest, but that the company was still “going to work hard and bring those tax revenues to you.”
A spokesperson for City Hall shared a statement, saying in-part, officials are “preparing to file a petition to remove the casino referendum from the November 2022 ballot…” and “…the City stands ready to move the proposed One Casino + Resort forward in 2023.”
Hours before Thursday’s community meeting, Morrissey sent a letter to Governor Glenn Youngkin to ensure the 2022 referendum vote did not happen. State Delegate Kim Taylor, of Petersburg, also signed the letter, which was also sent to Attorney General Jason Miyares and Richmond’s General Registrar.
8News called Morrissey for comment after Urban ONE announced their desire to postpone the referendum.
Morrissey said, “I’m glad Alfred [Liggins] realized and understood what the law is,” and added that he is “confident that Petersburg remains in the driver’s seat.” He expects a bill “would come next year to allow Petersburg the chance to pursue a casino license.”
Liggins spoke to a small group of reporters after his remarks during the meeting and said his team would consider “other options like Petersburg if the opportunity presented itself.” Meanwhile, he noted that the city is not currently authorized to pursue a casino license.