DANVILLE, VA. – Danville City Council is moving forward with its plans to bring a Caesars resort and casino to the River City.
This comes following an overwhelming “yes” vote to a casino referendum on Election Day.
On Monday night council took care of some of the formalities of the process, including certifying the referendum results and making their intentions official to the state lottery board.
Mayor Alonzo Jones said the most important thing about the new casino is that there were no backroom deals, that this was all up to the people.
“We’re really proud that we were able to after all the hard work, put it back in the hands of the citizens and the citizens have voted and stated that they want a casino here in Danville," Jones said.
In the two weeks since Election Day city staff have continued to work on the project. City Manager Ken Larking said they anticipated the approval and already had a lot in the hopper.
“If it did pass it would be better to hit the ground running and understand what people wanted us to invest our dollars into so that we’re not at this point really kind of flat footed," Larking said.
A committee is already working on deciding how to spend the first $15 million from Caesars, which is expected to be paid upfront to the city sometime soon. Jones said the city hopes to close on the site by the end of the year, and Caesars' project website said groundbreaking is set for some time in late 2020 or early 2021.
“We’re going to work closely with them through the permitting process, through the development process, all that kind of stuff. So we’re all kind of working together to make sure things happen as smoothly and quickly as possible," Larking said.
The grand opening would follow in mid 2023, according to Caesars.
Mayor Jones said those who did vote no on the referendum had valid concerns, and mitigating those concerns is a top priority.
“And I think once the citizens see more of that, I think those that voted no will feel a little bit more re-assured in regards to, basically what I think is one of the biggest things is crime," Jones said.
Caesars continues to collect and share information about its hiring and opportunities. Jobs at the resort are expected to pay $50,000 a year on average.