To Top

VA Appeals Court Decision On Norfolk Casino Focuses Cordish On Petersburg

Written By Derek Helling on March 5, 2024
norfolk virginia waterfront

For the Cordish Cos., the best hope for entering Virginia’s gambling industry could now be a potential referendum on casino gaming in Petersburg. Interests elsewhere in the state for the company have dimmed.

The Cordish Cos.’ lawsuit over the awarding of a license to develop and operate a physical casino in Norfolk has failed at the state appellate level. While options remain there, Petersburg comparatively has been trending up recently.

Virginia appeals court upholds dismissal of the Cordish Companies’ lawsuit

According to Ian Munro of The Virginian-Pilot, the decision of a state court in dismissing a lawsuit that a subsidy of The Cordish Cos. filed against the City of Norfolk stands unaltered. The subsidiary, Norfolk District Associates, filed the complaint in 2021.

Norfolk District Associates has operated an entertainment district in the vicinity of a planned casino in Norfolk since 2013. In its complaint, Norfolk District Associates argued that the contract should have given it the exclusive right to negotiate with the city to develop a casino there.

The trial court disagreed with that assessment in 2022, prompting Norfolk District Associates’ appeal. Now, the appellate court has upheld that ruling. At this time, Norfolk District Associates have not stated whether they intend to appeal further.

While the plaintiffs weigh their options moving forward, progress on the casino in Norfolk is languishing.

Headwaters Resort & Casino struggling to put shovels in the dirt in Norfolk

While the lawsuit from Norfolk District Associates threatened to derail the current casino project in Norfolk, that might have been mostly academic right now. There isn’t much progress happening on that front for completely unrelated reasons.

In late January, a spokesperson announced a further delay in the construction process for Headwaters Resort & Casino. The design plans for the casino complex still needed approval from multiple bodies in the city governance.

Before that announcement, the city had expressed displeasure with the submitted plans, arguing that they did not meet expectations for amenities and features that voters in the city authorized. The Pamunkey Indian Tribe and its partners are the holder of the license currently.

Until the plans are approved, no activity can begin on the Virginia casino that voters approved in 2020. While the license holders and the city work out their differences on the casino’s design, The Cordish Companies has designs of its own elsewhere in Virginia.

The Cordish Cos.’ other irons in the Virginia casino fire

Pending potential enactment in the Virginia Legislature is a bill that would authorize a casino referendum in Petersburg later this year. The bill has cleared the Virginia House of Delegates and has been reported favorably by a Virginia Senate committee.

Should the bill become law in its current form, it could be good news for Cordish. The Cordish Cos. has an existing relationship with the City of Petersburg regarding a casino proposal.

It’s unclear if Petersburg would move forward with that partnership should the state open the door for a referendum. Depending on the language of the potential law, the city might have to open a new bidding process.

Still, The Cordish Cos. might have an edge on the competition even in that event. While familiarity can breed contempt, the existing relationship would probably work oppositely in this context.

For that reason, Cordish might now turn its full attention to Petersburg when it comes to its interests in Virginia. Norfolk is not yet a completely lost cause, but the options are running thin.

Although Virginia’s sports betting and casino markets have flourished, an expansion to include Virginia online casinos has not gained much steam. Keep track of any Virginia and other states’ legislation with our online casino bill tracker.

Photo by PlayUSA
Derek Helling Avatar
Written by
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

View all posts by Derek Helling
Privacy Policy