Virginia Senate Committee Drops Consideration Of Fairfax County Casino Vote

Written By Derek Helling on February 2, 2024
Virginia assembly members speaking

Some Virginia residents may vote on whether they want a casino in their city in November 2024. It doesn’t look like residents of Fairfax County will be among those voters, however, due to recent action in a Virginia Senate committee.

The committee has shelved a bill that would have established a referendum along those lines. While that action doesn’t eliminate Fairfax County from consideration for the location of Virginia’s fifth casino, it gives another spot a clear advantage.

Virginia Senators call for more information on Fairfax County casino proposal

According to an article by Angela Woolsey of FFXnow, the Virginia Senate Finance & Appropriations Resources Subcommittee has voted to shelve SB675 for future consideration. That bill would allow residents of Tysons, Virginia, and the surrounding area to vote on whether they want to allow a casino in their vicinity.

A proposal had targeted the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station in Fairfax County as a site for a potential casino. Virginia law currently authorizes five such gaming facilities upon successful referendums in the host cities. Four such referendums passed in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.

Two attempts both failed in Richmond, however. Thus, legislators from various parts of the state have submitted proposals for their locales to take Richmond’s place. It doesn’t look like a referendum will happen in the Tysons area this year. That doesn’t mean it won’t ever be the case, however.

In shelving the bill, the committee could consider it again in 2025. Members of the committee stated that they would like to see a deeper dive into how a casino would impact the area. Shelving the bill instead of voting it down also affords the committee the option to treat Tysons as a contingency plan.

Shelving could clear the way for Petersburg referendum in 2024

In January, the Virginia Senate’s General Laws and Technology Committee advanced several bills, including one that would set up a casino referendum in Petersburg. While the shelving of the Fairfax County bill might seem like a related but unconnected action, it has some bearing.

Support for casino votes in both places seemed low among Virginia legislators. It is more likely that the votes to support a referendum in either Petersburg or Tysons would exist in the state capitol. Because the Fairfax County bill is now on ice, proponents of the Petersburg plan can press forward.

The Cordish Companies have already revealed ambitions for a Petersburg casino. For that reason, things could move quickly after legislative and voter approval. Neither of those things is a foregone conclusion at this point, though.

Broad support in the Virginia legislature or Petersburg’s voters is not guaranteed. The shelving of SB675 does remove one obstacle, but others might remain. If the Petersburg measure fails to receive adequate support either in the state capitol or at the ballot box, the legislature could revisit Tysons next year as an alternative.

Potential developers of the Tysons casino would probably prefer not to be Plan B. However, at this time, that is still a better situation for them than having their hopes dashed completely.

Photo by Steve Helber / AP Photo
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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