The state of Virginia could be set to see the construction of its first casino, with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe proceeding with its previously announced plans for a $700m complex, reports local media outlets.
Eyeing 20 hectares of land within its ancestral region near downtown Norfolk, between a minor league baseball stadium and an Amtrak station, a belief has been stated that the resort and casino would create thousands of jobs, as well as having an economic impact of in excess of $1bn a year.
In a letter to Kenneth Alexander, mayor of the city of Norfolk, Pamunkey Indian Tribe chief Robert Gray stated: “Just as this area played an important role in the tribe’s past, I believe that Norfolk will play an even more important role in the Pamunkey Tribe’s future.”
Adding: “Our shared excitement for this resort and our common goal of making this a world class destination has given me great confidence that this partnership will be a winning combination.
“Our team has enjoyed working with you and the city staff to bring forth an exciting plan that will benefit not only members of the tribe, but also the citizens of Norfolk and the surrounding communities.
“As we continue to negotiate the finer details of that plan and take the necessary steps to make this vision a reality, we look forward to building our partnership – and more importantly, our friendship.”
Proposals are still very much in the infancy stage however, and the project must first be approved by the bureau of Indian Affairs, who will consider whether the tribe’s proposals are on ancestral lands.
Responding to Gray’s letter regarding the casino resort, Alexander commented in a statement: “The Tribe’s decision validates Norfolk as an emerging destination for tourism in the mid-Atlantic.”
Concluding: “The heritage of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe also connects them to our region, and we look forward to continuing our conversation and creating another destination for Norfolk.”
Under state law casinos remain illegal at present, but optimism exists that approvals will be given to expand the state’s gambling, in part due to a greater willingness being shown by lawmakers.