Danville residents have mixed opinions about the possibility of a casino

Proposed state legislation would allow a casino to be built

DANVILLE, Va. – Me's Burgers & Brews in downtown Danville could be even busier than it already is if a casino opens up, but it's too much of a gamble for co-owner Kathy Cropp.

She said she is 150 percent against a casino.

"I've seen what gambling does to communities," Cropp said. "It's just extremely destructive and I wouldn't want to be known as the place where people can go and lose all their money."

She's planning to write a letter to the city.

"I just want to be heard. I want my voice as a business owner to count," Cropp emphasized.

Other residents 10 News talked to Wednesday said they didn't have enough information about the casino to decide if they are for or against it.

The state General Assembly has to approve legislation allowing a casino in Danville first.

If that happens, Danville residents would have to go to the polls in November and approve a referendum to allow a casino.

At Thursday's Danville City Council Meeting, council members will consider voting to support proposed legislation that would allow a casino to be built.

Danville Vice Mayor Lee Vogler says he'll support whatever the people decide.

"I would imagine if this happens, if it passes through the General Assembly, that it won't be a matter of waiting for a developer to come along and say, 'We might want to do it.' I would imagine that Danville will ultimately have several to choose from," said Vogler.

In an independent study presented to the city, by 2028 the project could create more than 6,800 direct and indirect jobs, over $1 billion in economic impact and over $20 million in tax revenue.

Vogler says Delegate Danny Marshall approached him in 2018 with the idea of opening a casino in Danville after hearing about a company working with lawmakers to open one in Bristol.

Portsmouth is the other city the state legislation would allow to have a casino.

"The one that's in Bristol, and I imagine ours would be very similar, has a conference center, a hotel, it has a family fun zone type thing in it. It has an entertainment venue," Vogler said.

How the tax revenue from the casino would be used had not been discussed as of Wednesday, but Vogler emphasized it would be managed at the local level, not by the state.

He said the revenue could potentially be used for public safety, for example building a new police department, or to help cover the $100 million in various repairs and updates needed for the city's schools.