Danville voters approve casino gaming

Danville voters have approved casino gaming by a margin of more than two-to-one, with 13,022 ballots cast in favor of a gaming establishment and 5,941 ballots cast against it, according to unofficial results Tuesday night.

In the special election to fill a vacant seat on City Council, Bryant Hood leads Fred Shanks by 89 votes following the night’s vote count.

Results are incomplete because provisional ballots will not be counted until Wednesday. Also, mail-in absentee ballots may be accepted until noon on Friday.

For the casino gaming referendum, voters in Danville overwhelmingly decided to permit a gaming establishment to be built at the former Dan River Mills industrial complex in Schoolfield.

In September, Danville city and Caesars Entertainment officials signed a development agreement for a resort casino at the site. The agreement outlined what Caesars Virginia promised to deliver to the City of Danville should the casino gaming referendum pass.

The highlights of this development agreement include promises to do the following:

  • Construct a Caesars-branded resort casino with a minimum of $400 million in capital investment, to include multiple restaurants and bars, a hotel with 300 four-star guest rooms, a 35,000square-foot conference center, a 2,500-seat live-entertainment venue, a pool, and a spa. The resort is expected to be open in 2023.
  • Employ 1,300 full-time equivalent employees, earning an hourly wage of at least $15 per hour.
  • Generate 900 construction jobs during the construction period.
  • Within 30 days of the referendum, pay $15 million to the City.
  • Guarantee a minimum of $5 million in gaming tax revenue each year for every full year Caesars is in operation.
  • Provide an annual supplemental payment directly to the City based on a percentage of net gaming revenue.

Based on estimates provided by Caesars and reviewed by Convergence Strategy Group, it is expected that, by year three of operation, this project will produce $22 million in state-collected gaming tax revenue remitted to the City of Danville, $12 million in supplemental payments to the City of Danville, and $4.2 million in meals, sales, hotel/motel, and property taxes.

In the City Council race, Hood, Shanks and Petrina Carter were vying to fill the unexpired term of Adam Tomer, who resigned his seat effective June 30, saying in a statement that he had accepted a job elsewhere that will not allow him “the time or ability to serve the citizens of Danville.”

Hood tallied 7,074 votes in Tuesday night’s count, while Shanks garnered 6,985 votes; and Carter, 4,141 votes.

The winner will finish Tomer’s term, which was slated to end June 30, 2022. Former mayor Sam Kushner has been filling the seat on an interim basis following an appointment in July by City Council.

City Council is the governing body of the City of Danville. It is comprised of nine people, elected at large for four-year staggered terms. The City Council elects the mayor and vice mayor from its membership. These officials serve two-year terms.