- By Tribal Business News Staff
NORFOLK, Va. — The Pamunkey Indian Tribe expects gaming revenues from its proposed Norfolk Resort & Casino could generate from $3.5 million to $4 million annually for the Virginia Indigenous People’s Trust Fund.
Earlier this year, the Commonwealth of Virginia allowed gaming to move forward in the state so long as the affected cities approve of the plans. The proposed $500 million tribal casino on the waterfront in downtown Norfolk, Va. goes before local voters in a referendum on the November ballot.
The legislation also requires 1 percent of the gaming proceeds from a casino operated by a federally recognized tribe to go into a fund that supports other federally recognized American Indian tribes in Virginia.
The contributions to the Virginia Indigenous People’s Trust Fund can be used for education, housing, health care and business development, according to a statement. Six federally recognized tribes — the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe. the Rappahannock Tribe Inc., the Monacan Indian Nation and the Nansemond Indian Tribe — would benefit from the funding.
“As the only tribe eligible to operate a casino in the state, we are thrilled with the opportunities our proposed resort and casino can provide other native Virginians,” Pamunkey Tribe Chief Robert Gray said in a statement. “After suffering injustices for hundreds of years, casino gaming in Norfolk will help continue the process of reconciliation for some of the Commonwealth’s first disenfranchised groups. We know what this will mean in terms of new opportunities for our Tribe and that’s why we pushed to have a portion of gaming revenue taxes go to a fund to assist the other tribes.”
The tribe also said it expects to contribute about $50 million annually for the state to use for the construction or renovation of public schools, more than half of which were built more than 50 years ago.
“Students in the commonwealth deserve facilities that will provide the ideal learning environment, and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe is proud [to] help fund the cause,” according to a statement.
Pro-casino backers and the tribe are mounting a public relations campaign in favor of the Norfolk referendum, according to a report in The Virginian-Pilot.
The tribe expects the casino to create 2,480 permanent jobs and more than 2,000 jobs during the construction process, according to the All In For Norfolk Casino website, which estimates 6.2 million annual visitors to the property.
Early designs for the Norfolk Casino & Resort call for a more than 300-room hotel, an entertainment venue, restaurants and pools as part of the 14-acre development on the Elizabeth River near Interstate 264. The casino would feature slot machines, table games and a sportsbook.
Plans for a proposed commercial casino in Portsmouth, Va. also go before voters on Nov. 3, according to reports.
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