Virginia Lawmaker Remains Committed to Fairfax Casino, Says County Must Diversify

The Virginia lawmaker who earlier this year fought for a commercial casino opportunity for Fairfax County says he’ll maintain the campaign when the Virginia General Assembly returns in 2025.

Virginia casino Fairfax Tysons David Marsden
An aerial view of the Tysons business district near Washington, D.C., in Fairfax County, Va. Efforts to bring a commercial casino to the office center will reignite in 2025, a state senator says. (Image: Getty)

Virginia Sen. David Marsden (D-Fairfax) worked with local real estate developers Comstock Companies and Clemente Development in crafting legislation to designate Fairfax County as a permissible commercial casino host county. Marsden’s bill singled out a specific location — a former automobile dealership in Tysons along Route 7 — for the gaming resort and convention center.

The bill failed after local officials and many homeowners associations in the Tysons area pushed back on the gaming effort. Marsden wasn’t swayed, however, and is pledging to reignite the casino drive next year.

Marsden says Tysons, along with McClean, relies heavily on commercial office space, much of which remains vacant in the pandemic’s aftermath as workplaces have migrated to remote settings.

We have a serious situation going on here with a paradigm shift in worker behavior, which has led to huge numbers of office vacancies and much fewer buildings being leased out,” Marsden told 7News, a local ABC affiliate.

“We still have a number of years to go for leases to expire that were taken out before and during the pandemic. As those leases expire, people are going to come back for much less floor space. [That’s] going to put a real hurt on the county’s revenue structure,” Marsden added.

Diversity Needed

Fewer workers in the office not only affects the property valuation of commercial office buildings but also nearby businesses like restaurants, daycares, convenience stores, gas stations, and other small businesses. The economic impact, Marsden says, is far-reaching, and to maintain the quality of life that Fairfax residents demand and deserve, homeowners will need to foot the bill unless new tax streams flood the county.

Marsden cited that the average homeowner’s property tax bill went up $450 this year despite the considerable public backlash against the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ plan.

“We’re in a situation where people are starting to really pay attention to how much they’re paying in taxes on their homes and their cars and what have you,” Marsden said.

Higher taxes aren’t the only thing many homeowners oppose. Marsden’s casino advance also has many foes.

Casino Opponents

The “No Casino Coalition” consists of 12 homeowners associations and local municipality boards that are championing the opposition to a Fairfax casino. The grassroots organization is calling on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to recommend to its representative state lawmakers to oppose efforts in Richmond to designate Fairfax County for a casino referendum opportunity.

Virginia’s 2020 gaming law requires that local voters have the final say on whether a casino can come to their hometowns. A majority of the Fairfax supervisors seemed to oppose a casino during their considerations of the matter in January.

Such a development right in the middle of Tysons would indelibly alter the character of the community — for the worse,” said Bill Comerford, a No Casino Coalition member and volunteer.

“I’ve had lots of people come up with little kids, literally small children and families with kids in strollers, who are very concerned,” added Tracy McCarthy, another No Casino Coalition member who recently tended to the cause’s booth at the Viva! Vienna Festival.

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