A week before Election Day, an anti-gambling activist at a rally in Virginia compared the construction of a brick-and-mortar casino in the state to institutional racism, according to a report from the Danville Register & Bee.
Next week, citizens of select cities in Virginia will have the ability to cast their vote as to whether casino gambling will come to the state. The imminence of the election caused the rally to breakout in Danville, one of the cities that will choose whether to bring a casino to its economy.
The rally was held by Stop Predatory Gambling, a D.C.-based group that fights against gambling expansion. The group was founded in 2008. Its national director, Les Bernal, made the comparison earlier this week to the roughly 40 people that attended the rally.
“Big corporate gambling companies like casinos, along with state and local governments, effectively have had their knee on the throat of the financial well-being of African American citizens for 40 years,” said Bernal. “Local casinos are a form of consumer financial fraud that cause life-changing financial losses for countless citizens.”
Bernal went on to say that African Americans are disproportionately affected by problem gambling and are spend five times more on lottery tickets than white people.
According to Steven Gould, a local attorney representing the pro-gambling Caesars for Danville campaign, a casino in Danville would add 1,300 jobs to the economy and provide an estimated $38 million in tax revenue.
Along with Danville, residents of Bristol, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond will vote on casino gambling this Tuesday.
Maryland, South Dakota, Louisiana, Nebraska and Colorado also have gambling related initiatives on the ballot. Maryland, South Dakota and Louisiana vote on whether to legalize sports betting, Nebraska will decide whether to bring casino gambling to its state and Colorado will decide if it should raise the current $100 limit on any wager.