The Fairfax casino bill pushed by state Sen. David Marsden (D-Fairfax) has been shelved until at least 2025.
Virginia Sen. David Marsden testifies before the state Senate Finance & Appropriations Resources Subcommittee about his casino bill on Feb. 1, 2024. Marsden wants to allow Fairfax County to casino a casino, but his bill was shelved until at least 2025. (Image: Virginia Senate)
The Senate Finance & Appropriations Resources Subcommittee voted 4-0 on Thursday to carry the bill over to next year’s session.
Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), the subcommittee chair, told the committee and those in attendance on Thursday that she’s the “Casino Queen” and is supportive of consideration of legislation that would allow Fairfax officials and their constituents to deliberate a casino. But she thinks an updated review of the possible economic benefits — and possible drawbacks — to a casino in the Tysons area is needed before Marsden’s Senate Bill 675 moves forward.
“I would like to see some updated projections because I would like to keep this bill alive,” Lucas said.
Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit & Review Commission (JLARC) looked at Northern Virginia when state lawmakers drafted their 2020 commercial gaming bill. State researchers concluded that a casino in the northern part of the commonwealth would generate $155 million annually in state tax revenue from gaming, employ around 3,200 people, and recoup about $100 million in gaming money that’s currently being lost to casinos in Maryland.
Several community boards and homeowners’ associations in Fairfax voiced strong opposition to Marsden’s casino push. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors this week penned a letter to state officials claiming they were kept out of Marsden’s authoring of the casino bill and weren’t asked for input on the matter.
The community deserves to know all the details of a major proposal like this, details such as what is actually included in the proposal, the proposed site, potential revenues, community impacts, traffic impacts, and more before the General Assembly considers it,” Fairfax County Supervisor Chair Jeff McKay told FFXNow. “We still do not have all of the information we need.”
Marsden said it’s his job “to give my county options” regarding economic development avenues.
Because of the pandemic, which hit us hard, Fairfax County is losing a lot of commercial real estate income and the decline in Metro ridership has added greatly to the burden,” Marsden said. “I think it’s time to send this to the local government for them to make their own analytics, make their own decisions about this, the pros and cons, and decide whether they want to have a referendum.”
Marsden’s bill needs legislative support and Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) signing. If that were to happen, the Fairfax government would be allowed to field casino bids and then present the best option to voters. If a majority of county voters approved of the project, only then would it be formally cleared.
Marsden Stresses Importance
Marsden thinks Fairfax County homeowners should be ready for property tax increases in the coming years if they want to maintain their quality schools, infrastructure, and first responder services. He says the county’s property tax base is dwindling in the pandemic aftermath as many employers continue to allow staffers to work from home and considerable office space remains vacant.
While Fairfax County residential real estate assessments increased by 7% in 2023, commercial property values grew only modestly by 1.65%.
“I don’t want anybody to say 10 years from now, ‘Gee, why didn’t somebody anticipate the changes in our revenue picture here in Fairfax County and make adjustments?’” Marsden said last month.
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