A conceptual rendering of the Pamunkey Tribe's proposed $700 million casino in Virginia. Image: Pamunkey Tribe

Pamunkey Tribe goes commercial casino route in Virginia

The Pamunkey Tribe announced plans to pursue a commercial casino in Virginia.

The tribe plans to purchase 13.4 acres in the city of Norfolk, according to news reports. But as part of the agreement, the tribe said it would seek to operate a commercial casino pursuant to state law.

“The signing of these agreements makes it official – we are partners with Norfolk to bring a world-class resort and casino to the region,” Chief Robert Gray said in a statement quoted in the Virginia media.

The tribe, having gained federal recognition in 2016, could pursue a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, a federal law. Going that route will likely take several, if not more years, as it requires the acquisition of land through the cumbersome fee-to-trust process as well as the negotiation of a Class III gaming compact with the state, all under the threat of litigation and shifting political winds.

A commercial casino isn't an easy path either. Casino-style gaming is not yet legal in Virginia, though the issue is expected to be debated by state lawmakers this year.

"I am pleased to announce that we have reached mutually agreeable terms with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe to pursue a resort project that will conform and comply with commercial gaming legislation being considered in Virginia," Norfolk City Manager Larry “Chip” Filer said in a statement.

The Pamunkey Reservation is located near Richmond, the state capital. Norfolk is further south, near the border with North Carolina.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, based in North Carolina, is also looking to land a commercial casino in Virginia, in the southwestern part of the state. Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe, is looking to build in the same region.

Read More on the Story
Pamunkey tribe, city sign Norfolk casino agreements (Virginia Business January 13, 2020)
Pamunkey Tribe signs agreements with Norfolk to purchase land, develop resort & casino (WTKR January 13, 2020)
Norfolk and Pamunkey Tribe sign casino agreements (WINA January 13, 2020)
Pamunkey Indian Tribe signs agreements with Norfolk to buy land, develop casino (13 News Now January 13, 2020)
Dueling casinos: Pinnacle owner, Cherokee agreement sets up conflicting proposals for Southwest Va. gambling (Washington County News January 14, 2020) Cherokee angles for Virginia casino project (The Smoky Mountain News January 15, 2020)

Resort Casino Public Hearings - City of Norfolk

Relevant Documents
Intergovernmental Agreement By and Between The Pamunkey Indian Tribe And The City of Norfolk, Virginia
An Ordinance approving an intergovernmental agreement between the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and the City of Norfolk, approving an option to purchase between the City of Norfolk and Golden Eagle Consulting II, LLC

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