Fairfax Casino Bill Amended to Limit Resort to Auto Dealership

Posted on: January 17, 2024, 04:29h. 

Last updated on: January 17, 2024, 04:29h.

The Fairfax County casino effort being spearheaded by Virginia Sen. David Marsden (D-Fairfax) has reportedly been amended to allow the gaming resort to be built at only one specific site.

Fairfax casino Virginia gaming David Marsden
Virginia Sen. David Marsden is pictured in his General Assembly chambers in Richmond in 2020. Marsden is behind a legislative undertaking to allow Fairfax County to consider authorizing a casino resort development. (Image: The New York Times)

Marsden since last year has been on a campaign to designate Fairfax County in Northern Virginia as a permissible casino host jurisdiction. He’s working with Del. Wren Williams (R-Stuart) to rally bipartisan support for the undertaking.

Though Marsden has not officially introduced the Fairfax casino legislation in the Richmond capital, the longtime state lawmaker this week provided details on the forthcoming statute to NBC4 Washington. The biggest revelation in Marsden’s interview is that he will limit where the casino can operate.

“The eligible host locality … shall be limited to a proposed site for a casino gaming establishment that is located within one-quarter of a mile of an existing station on the Metro Silver Line, part of a coordinated mixed-use project development, outside of the Dulles airport flight path, within two miles of a major shopping destination containing not less than 1.5 million square feet of gross building area, and outside of the Interstate 495 Beltway.”

Marsden said that essentially boils the possible spots down to a former auto dealership along Route 7 in Tysons.

Dwindling Tax Base

Much of Fairfax County, and specifically the census-designated Tysons, is home to an abundance of office space. Marsden and backers of his casino push say COVID-19 greatly reduced the county’s property tax benefit, as buildings have lost value because of many workers going remote permanently.

There’s a real need to try to figure out a way to help plug the property tax hole that’s going to happen,” said state Senator and Democratic Majority Leader Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax). “If we want good schools, the burden of offsetting lost tax revenue is going to fall on homeowners so the county needs more revenue sources.”

Marsden says he’s seeking to give Fairfax voters a choice.

“I don’t want anybody to say 10 years from now, ‘Gee, why didn’t somebody anticipate the changes in our revenue picture here in Fairfax County and make adjustments?’” Marsden asked.

Odds Long

Many local governments, as well as neighborhood and community associations in the Tysons region, have come out in opposition to Marsden’s bill. The Vienna Town Council, Reston Citizens Association, and McClean Citizens Association have each voiced their antagonism to a casino resort.

Marsden says it isn’t just a casino but an entertainment and business district with hotel and convention capabilities.

If Marsden’s bill would receive adequate support in the General Assembly and be signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), Fairfax voters would have the ultimate say on whether the county’s casino resort is authorized. The county would first hold a competitive bid to field pitches from interested developers and then put the project before local voters through a ballot referendum.

A casino push to designate Petersburg is also ongoing. That legislative effort is now being led by state Sens. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and Lashrecse Aird (D-Petersburg).

Four casinos have already been approved via local referendums in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville, and Bristol. Rivers Casino Portsmouth was the first permanent casino to open a year ago this month. Temporary casinos have also opened in Danville and Bristol.

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