NorfolkTV: Pamunkey Indian Tribe Message

Pamunkey Tribe eager to move forward with casino proposals

The recently recognized Pamunkey Tribe is seeking to build two casinos in Virginia as full-scale gaming moves closer to reality.

The tribe has its eyes on Norfolk, where local officials already support plans for a facility on 13.4 acres on the waterfront. The tribe is also hoping to bid on a potential casino in the capital city of Richmond.

“The Pamunkey Tribe is eager to move forward with its plans to build a world-class resort and casino in Norfolk and ready to respond to Richmond’s Request for Proposals to bring a casino to the River City,” a statement released to the media read. “Its plans to build two resorts with casinos will allow the Tribe to provide needed programs and services to its members. It will be a great partner for Norfolk and Richmond. The Tribe will keep profits in Virginia through reinvestment locally and will provide tremendous benefits to these regions of the Commonwealth for decades to come.”

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

Moving forward depends on additional steps at the state and local levels, as Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has yet to sign legislation that paves the way for full-scale gaming. Assuming the bill becomes law, voters in Norfolk and in Richmond would then be asked whether they want a casino in their community, the outcome which will affect the tribe's plans.

The tribe could go another route, by seeking federal approval to have land placed in trust in order to open a casino. The process, however, is likely to take several years, if not longer, due to hurdles at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and potential legal challenges.

Opening a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act also requires a Class III compact if the tribe intends to run slot machines, card games and related offerings. The state would have to come to the table and negotiate.

As a recently recognized Indian nation, the tribe would have to prove that it was "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934 in order to quality for the fee-to-trust process at the BIA. The tribe could also ask Congress to acquire trust lands.

Six other tribes in Virginia also recently gained recognition by going through Congress. The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act authorizes lands to be placed in trust for them.

The law, however, it bars them from engaging in gaming on their lands. They could still seek gaming through the state but none have publicly expressed an interest, and most of their leadership, in the past has disavowed gambling.

Read More on the Story
Virginia poised to legalize casinos at unlucky time (The Associated Press March 22, 2020)
Casino plans move forward with GA vote (Virginia Business March 9, 2020)
Virginia moves closer to casino gaming, posing real threat to MGM National Harbor's revenue (The Washington Business Journal March 9, 2020)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Pamunkey Tribe confronts questions about race-based history (March 9, 2020)
Pamunkey Tribe goes commercial casino route in Virginia (January 15, 2020)
Tribes join race for commercial casino in Virginia (January 8, 2020)
Pamunkey Tribe asserts rights after release of gaming study (November 25, 2019)
Pamunkey Tribe keeps options open in pursuit of $700 million casino (September 27, 2019)
Virginia enters new era with gaming devices resembling slot machines (July 8, 2019)
Virginia gaming study bill becomes law as new betting machines arrive (March 25, 2019)
Pamunkey Tribe stands to gain with historic action on gaming in Virginia (February 25, 2019)
Pamunkey Tribe clears first hurdle with bill to authorize casino under state law (January 21, 2019)
Pamunkey Tribe willing to operate gaming facility under state law (January 16, 2018)
'Like dropping a bomb': Nansemond Indian Nation bashes another tribe's casino plan (January 14, 2019)
Pamunkey Tribe finds welcoming host community for potential casino (December 19, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe sees support for gaming development in Virginia (December 6, 2018)
Editorial: Don't let prejudice stand in the way of tribe (November 29, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe still working on casino plan after winning recognition (November 28, 2018)
'Economic self-sufficiency': Pamunkey Tribe pursues casino in Virginia (June 14, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe not invited to local meeting about casino plan (May 23, 2018)
Former chief of Pamunkey Tribe slams gaming plan as 'recipe for disaster' (May 11, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe pushes for casino as Virginia opens door to new machines (May 7, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe partners with billionaire developer in push for casino (April 25, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe connected to acquisition of land by gaming company (April 23, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe announces plans for $700 million gaming facility (March 16, 2018)