Seeking proposals for a casino project now will provide officials with information on a potential gaming project before a possible voter referendum in 2020, Danville’s city manager said.

“We want to be as prepared as possible should the state give our citizens the opportunity to vote [on whether to allow a casino in Danville],” City Manager Ken Larking said. “The more information we have now, the better for our community to help them decide what to do.”

The city posted a request for proposals for a possible casino project Monday.

The request seeks proposals from casino operators interested in bringing a gaming facility to Danville. It does not include off-track or pari-mutuel wagering, which is a separate issue that deals primarily with horse racing and slot-like historical horse racing machines.

The city will consider several criteria in choosing among respondents, including projected number of jobs created, the company’s experience and other amenities a project would include, according to a news release from the city of Danville.

Four casino operators have expressed interest in bringing a casino to Danville, according to email communication among city officials the Danville Register & Bee obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to an Oct. 23 email from Larking to City Councilman Fred Shanks, city officials wanted to send out a request for information to possible casino operators, but decided to hold off until after a statewide casino study was completed by the state’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, which is the research arm of the Virginia General Assembly. That report was presented by the commission Nov. 25 in Richmond.

“There likely would be information in the report that may help them put forward a better proposal,” Larking told the Register & Bee on Monday.

A request for information asks for general information from a company, with no specific project or selection process involved. A request for proposals, on the other hand, seeks details and price estimates for a project from different companies, with a selection process that follows.

But casinos are not legal in Virginia.

S B 1126 called for the JLARC study as a prerequisite for possibly allowing casinos to operate in certain Virginia cities.

That legislation would allow casinos in Danville — as well as Bristol, Portsmouth, Richmond and Norfolk — if approved by voter referendum.

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Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.

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