State Senate committee rejects northern Virginia casino bill

Feb 6, 2024, 10:27 AM

McLEAN, Va. (AP) — A Virginia Senate committee on Tuesday rejected legislation that would have allowed a referendum on a casino in the wealthy suburbs of the nation’s capital.

The Senate Finance and Appropriations committee voted 13-2 against a bill that would have allowed Fairfax County to hold a referendum on building a casino and conference center in Tysons Corner, a neighborhood that is currently home to high-end retail and office development.

The committee vote effectively kills the bill for this year’s legislative session but provides a modicum of hope to casino supporters that it can be revived in the future. The committee rejected a motion to kill the bill outright, instead opting to carry the bill over to 2025 for future consideration.

The committee’s chairwoman, Sen. L. Louise Lucas, had said at an earlier subcommittee hearing that she wanted to find a way to keep the bill alive and get updated research on the potential tax revenue that could be generated. Lucas has been a supporter of casino legislation and noted at the subcommittee hearing that she’s known in the General Assembly as the “casino queen.”

Civic groups in neighborhoods around the proposed casino strongly opposed the idea and expressed concern about traffic and crime.

Some state and county lawmakers also said that a casino was a bad fit. They noted that the legislation specified that a casino would be placed along the region’s Silver Line Metrorail station, which is considered prime real estate by the county for more desirable commercial development.

“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.”

But the bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Marsden, D-Fairfax, said that demand for prime office space has fallen off since the pandemic, and Fairfax County needs the ability to diversify its tax base.

As for neighborhood opposition, Marsden said a referendum would allow the county as a whole, not any particular neighborhood, to decide whether they want the revenue boost that a casino would provide.

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

Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell said the casino would provide revenue that could essentially save each county taxpayer $500 to $600 annually.

A study commissioned in 2019 by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee found that a northern Virginia casino could generate $155 million annually in tax revenue, more than any of the other casinos built in Virginia.

“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 pointed to the success of Maryland’s MGM casino in National Harbor, which is just across the Potomac River from Virginia and relies heavily on northern Virginia for its customer base.

Connie Hartke with the Reston Citizens Association, one of the civic groups that has lined up against the casino, said citizen opposition to a casino will only continue to grow if proponents make another push next year.

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

Also on Tuesday, the committee voted to advance legislation that would allow Petersburg to hold a referendum on a casino.

Virginia voted in 2020 to allow locations in five cities, subject to referendum. Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth and Norfolk all voted for a casino; Richmond voters twice rejected a proposed casino in that city.

Petersburg, less than 25 miles (40.23 kilometers) south of Richmond, has sought the opportunity to host the casino that Richmond rejected.

United States News

Associated Press

Man in custody after 4 found dead in Brooklyn apartment attack, NYPD says

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Police Department says it has taken a man into custody in connection with the deaths of a grandmother, a mother and her two children in the family’s Brooklyn apartment. Police said in a statement Saturday that officers responded to a report late Friday night of an assault, and […]

14 minutes ago

Passengers wait at Benito Juárez International Airport in Mexico City, Friday, July 19, 2024. Some...

Associated Press

8.5 million computers running Windows affected by faulty update from CrowdStrike

As the world continues to recover from massive business and travel disruptions caused by a faulty software update from cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, malicious actors are trying to exploit the situation for their own gain. Government cybersecurity agencies across the globe and even CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz are warning businesses and individuals around the world about […]

2 hours ago

FILE - This April 18, 2024, photo released by the Utah Department of Corrections shows death row in...

Associated Press

Utah scraps untested lethal drug combination for man’s August execution

Utah officials said Saturday that they are scrapping plans to use an untested lethal drug combination in next month’s planned execution of a man in a 1998 murder case. They will instead seek out a drug that’s been used previously in executions in numerous states. Defense attorneys for Taberon Dave Honie, 49, had sued in […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Plane crash near Ohio airport kills 3; federal authorities investigating

VIENNA, Ohio (AP) — A plane trying to make an emergency landing at an airport in northeastern Ohio crashed, killing all three people aboard, authorities said. The Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday that the twin-engine Beechcraft 60 went down near the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Ohio at about 6:45 p.m. Friday. The Ohio State Highway […]

4 hours ago

Firefighters battle a fire at First Baptist Dallas church on Friday, July 19, 2024, in Dallas. (Chi...

Associated Press

A fire severely damages the historic First Baptist Dallas church sanctuary

A fire all but destroyed the historic church sanctuary at First Baptist Dallas, sending smoke billowing over the city but causing no deaths or injuries, Dallas firefighters said. The fire in the Texas Historic Landmark, a Victorian-style red brick church built in 1890, was reported about 6:30 p.m. Friday, and contained about three hours later, […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

New Hampshire Gov. Sununu signs bill banning transgender girls from girls’ sports

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire has signed a bill that would ban transgender athletes in grades 5-12 from teams that align with their gender identity, adding the state to nearly half in the nation that adopted similar measures. The bill passed by the Republican-led Legislature would require schools to […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

State Senate committee rejects northern Virginia casino bill