A conceptual rendering of the Pamunkey Tribe's proposed $700 million casino in Virginia. Image: Pamunkey Tribe

Pamunkey Tribe keeps options open in pursuit of $700 million casino

The recently recognized Pamunkey Tribe is moving forward with a $700 million gaming resort in Virginia.

The tribe won approval of an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Norfolk on Tuesday. The deal includes the sale of city-owned land to the tribe for the casino. The cost is $10 million, according to news reports.

The tribe plans to seek approval for a state-licensed commercial casino at the 13.25-acre site on the city's waterfront, in an area known as Harbor Park. But the tribe is also keeping options open at the federal level, according to the intergovernmental agreement.

"The tribe will submit a trust application to the United States Department of the Interior for the acquisition in trust of the subject property as part of the tribe’s initial reservation land," the document states. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which processes land-into-trust applications, is part of the Department of the Interior.

Indianz.Com on Google Maps: Pamunkey Tribe - Homelands and New lands in Virginia

As a newly recognized tribe, the Pamunkeys can seek an initial reservation. If the land is placed in trust, it can be used for a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The intergovernmental agreement requires the tribe to share revenues with the city of Norfolk in the event it opens a casino pursuant to IGRA. The document states that the tribe is seeking to negotiate a Class III gaming compact with the state, which is required for slot machines, table games and similar offerings.

The tribe, however, is also interested in securing a commercial license should the state of Virginia approve gaming in the future. The issue is under study in the legislature.

"If a commercial casino, the tribe will pay taxes including any local option that might be approved" at the state level, the intergovernmental agreement reads.

The tribe has a state-recognized reservation about an hour east of Richmond, the state capital. Norfolk is about 2 hours south of the reservation.

The tribe is working on the casino with an entity called "Golden Eagle Consulting II." Prior news reports have identified the financial backer as Jon Yarbrough, the billionaire founder of Video Gaming Technologies, which has supplied gaming machines to tribal casinos across the nation.

Read More on the Story
Norfolk citizens plan petition to undo casino vote (The Virginian-Pilot September 25, 2019)
Norfolk City Council approves casino deal at downtown waterfront (The Virginian-Pilot September 24, 2019)
Norfolk City Council votes to move forward with casino (WTKR September 24, 2019)
Norfolk, Indian tribe come to agreement on land sale for $700M hotel and casino (WAVY September 11, 2019)

Relevant Documents
Intergovernmental Agreement By and Between The Pamunkey Indian Tribe And The City of Norfolk, Virginia
An Ordinance approving an intergovernmental agreement between the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and the City of Norfolk, approving an option to purchase between the City of Norfolk and Golden Eagle Consulting II, LLC

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