Virginia Senator Revises Bill Aiming to Build Casino in Fairfax County

Virginia State Senator Dave Marsden has reintroduced a bill that could pave the way for the construction of a resort-style casino, reminiscent of MGM National Harbor. 

Sen. Marsden’s Revised Casino Bill Targets Tysons Location

Sen. Marsden’s earlier attempt to introduce a similar bill faced setbacks, prompting a strategic revision to address concerns from residents, particularly in Reston. The new proposal is stringent about the casino’s placement, limiting it to Tysons and excluding Reston from consideration, reported NBC Washington.

The bill specifies that the eligible location for the casino must be within one-quarter of a mile of an existing station on the Metro Silver Line, part of a coordinated mixed-use project development, outside the Dulles airport flight path, within tw ph646 o miles of a major shopping destination containing at least 1.5 million square feet of gross building area, and outside the Interstate 495 Beltway. Notably, the bill singles out a particular parcel in Tysons — the site of a defunct auto dealership on Route 7.

The legislative journey for this proposal involves several steps. First, the bill must navigate through both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly and gain the signature of Gov. Glenn Youngkin. When asked about his stance on the matter, a spokesperson for Gov. Youngkin conveyed that he would review any legislation presented to him.

Should the bill receive approval, it would then proceed to the county level, where the county board would need to request a referendum. This referendum would allow Fairfax County voters to voice their opinion on whether they support the establishment of a casino. If the majority approves, the county would initiate a competitive bidding process for interested developers, who would subsequently seek a casino operator for the venture.

Uncertainties Surround Fairfax Casino Proposal Despite Economic Promise

Some proponents of the casino envision a comprehensive development that goes beyond mere gambling, including a convention center, hotels, restaurants, office space, and residences. This ambitious project aims to address the decline in commercial real estate tax revenue, a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left a void in funding for county resources.

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State Senator and Democratic Majority Leader Scott Surovell stressed the importance of securing additional revenue sources to prevent homeowners from bearing the burden. He asserted that to maintain quality education, the responsibility of compensating for lost tax revenue would inevitably shift to homeowners, underscoring the county’s requirement for diversifying its revenue streams.

Despite the potential economic benefits and job creation outlined in a 2019 study by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, there is considerable opposition from local governments and community associations in the Tysons region. The path to establishing a casino in Fairfax County remains uncertain, and the proposal’s fate hinges on legislative approval and the voice of the county’s voters.