Virginia Senator Proposes Revised Casino Bill Amid Local Opposition

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New Casino Bill Proposed in Virginia

Virginia Senator, Dave Marsden, has proposed a revised casino bill that would establish a resort casino modelled after the renowned MGM National Harbor. Marsden has responded to residents’ objections and in his new proposal, has designated Tysons as the only option for the site selection.

Revision After Resistance

Marsden’s original attempt to introduce a casino measure met with resistance. This prompted him to revise the bill to allay fears – particularly those of Reston residents. The updated plan, which explicitly excludes Reston, designates Tysons as the only possible location for the casino.

Location Requirements

The bill stipulates specific requirements for the casino’s location. These include proximity to a Metro Silver Line Station, cooperation with mixed-use project developments in the vicinity, distance from the flight path of Dulles Airport, proximity to a major retail center, and non-inclusion in the Interstate 495 Beltway. A specific plot of land in Tysons, where a deserted car dealership on Route 7 used to be, was selected as the preferred location.

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Legislative Hurdles and District Referendum

To advance the bill, it must pass both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly and be signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin. A spokesperson for Governor Youngkin stated that he would carefully review each proposed bill. If the law is approved, it will proceed at the district level. To give Fairfax County residents the opportunity to express their opinion on the casino project, the county council would have to propose a referendum.

Vision for the Casino Project

Proponents of the casino project see it as more than just a gaming venue. They also plan a convention center, hotels, restaurants, office spaces, and apartments. The ambitious project is intended to counteract the decline in commercial property tax revenues, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resistance and Future of the Project

However, local governments and neighborhood groups in Tysons are strongly opposed to the proposal, despite a 2019 report by the Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission highlighting significant economic benefits. State Senator Scott Surovell emphasizes the need for new sources of revenue and diversifying income streams to avoid overburdening homeowners. The future of the proposed casino in Fairfax County is still uncertain, as it depends on both legislative approval and the opinion of district residents.

Source: NBC Washington, Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission of Virginia.

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