Indian tribe could build Virginia’s first casino


NORFOLK, Va. (AP/WRIC) — Discussions are underway between a Virginia Indian tribe and officials in the Hampton Roads region to build the state’s first casino.

Pamunkey Indian Tribe spokesman Jay Smith said Wednesday that it’s negotiating with officials in Norfolk. The Pamunkey are eyeing 20 acres along the Elizabeth River that sit between a minor league baseball stadium and an Amtrak station.

The Pamunkey announced plans earlier this year to build a $700 million resort and casino in New Kent County and released renderings of the proposal. But according to the tribe, those plans were simply renderings of ideas.

“The first piece of property that we purchased was in New Kent, and so people just assumed that’s where the casino was going,” Smith explained.

The Pamunkey Tribe says careful planning will be a part of determining what gets built at each property, including New Kent County.

The Department of Interior granted federal recognition to the Pamunkey in 2015, allowing the possibility of casinos through a separate approval process. Virginia currently has no casinos.

The tribe was considered the most powerful in the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom, which greeted the English settlers at Jamestown, and claims Pocahontas among its lineage.

“We have to be very transparent with the Bureau of Indian Affairs about what we’d like to do at each parcel,” Smith added. “So New Kent is certainly still part of our portfolio as well as hopefully future announcements of other properties we’re looking at.”

There is currently no timetable for the proposed projects.

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