The recently recognized Pamunkey Tribe
is seeking to build two casinos in Virginia as full-scale gaming moves closer to reality.
The tribe has its eyes on Norfolk, where local officials already support
plans for a facility on 13.4 acres on the waterfront. The tribe is also hoping to bid on a potential casino in the capital city of Richmond.
“The Pamunkey Tribe is eager to move forward with its plans to build a world-class resort and casino in Norfolk and ready to respond to Richmond’s Request for Proposals to bring a casino to the River City,” a statement released to the media read. “Its plans to build two resorts with casinos will allow the Tribe to provide needed programs and services to its members. It will be a great partner for Norfolk and Richmond. The Tribe will keep profits in Virginia through reinvestment locally and will provide tremendous benefits to these regions of the Commonwealth for decades to come.”
A conceptual rendering
of the Pamunkey Tribe's proposed $700 million casino in Virginia. Image:
Moving forward depends on additional steps at the state and local levels, as Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has yet to sign legislation that paves the way for full-scale gaming. Assuming the bill becomes law, voters in Norfolk and in Richmond would then be asked whether they want a casino in their community, the outcome which will affect the tribe's plans.
The tribe could go another route, by seeking federal approval to have land placed in trust in order to open a casino. The process, however, is likely to take several years, if not longer, due to hurdles at the Bureau of Indian Affairs
and potential legal challenges.
Opening a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
also requires a Class III compact if the tribe intends to run slot machines, card games and related offerings. The state would have to come to the table and negotiate.
As a recently recognized Indian nation, the tribe would have to prove that it was "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934 in order to quality for the fee-to-trust process
at the BIA. The tribe could also ask Congress to acquire trust lands.
Six other tribes in Virginia also recently gained recognition
by going through Congress. The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act authorizes lands to be placed in trust for them.
The law, however, it bars them from engaging in gaming on their lands. They could still seek gaming through the state but none have publicly expressed an interest, and most of their leadership, in the past has disavowed gambling.
Read More on the Story
Virginia poised to legalize casinos at unlucky time
(The Associated Press March 22, 2020)
Casino plans move forward with GA vote
(Virginia Business March 9, 2020)
Virginia moves closer to casino gaming, posing real threat to MGM National Harbor's revenue
(The Washington Business Journal March 9, 2020)
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