The $500m Norfolk Resort & Casino is to become a reality, after voters in the citywide referendum gave the go-ahead to the project by an approximate 2:1 margin.

The decision to allow casino gaming has also been made in three other Virginia cities, with Danville, Bristol and Portsmouth also said to have given the nod. Operating partners on those developments will be Caesars Entertainment, Hard Rock International and Rush Street Gaming, respectively.

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe, selected as preferred developer in Norfolk, says that the next step for the project includes obtaining the necessary permits from the city and announcing the construction team.

“While every vote deserves to be counted, the residents of Norfolk have made it clear that they are excited about a resort and casino coming to the Mermaid City,” said Jay Smith, spokesperson for the Norfolk Resort & Casino

Plans currently in place would see ground broken in early spring, with the project slated to be completed by the end of 2022. The resort will include a 300-room hotel, entertainment venue, spa, pool, multiple restaurants and a gaming floor that boasts 3,000 slots and 150 table games.

Construction is expected to create 2,000 jobs, with approximately 2,500 permanent jobs expected once operations begin. 

Furthermore, a minority outreach and hiring plan has also been rolled-out, which sees the tribe set a goal of having 90 per cent of the resort and casino’s workforce be residents of Norfolk or surrounding localities, and 50 per cent from minority groups.

“We are moved beyond words by the tremendous display of support we’ve received from the Norfolk community,” added Robert Gray, chief of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. 

“To everyone who advocated on our behalf, shared our message with their friends and neighbours, put up a yard sign, wore a sticker or simply voted yes, we cannot thank you enough. We look forward to working with you to make Norfolk even stronger for decades to come.”

The Pamunkey Tribe has already begun working in the community and made access to food, with a commitment of $150,000 in financing made to open a grocery store in the St Paul’s neighbourhood. The Tribe has also been working with area churches and non-profit organisations over the past two months to provide funding for food pantries and hot meals for those in need.