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Virginia Casino Bill Passed in State Senate

February 06, 2019
Virginia Casino Bill

Virginia will soon have commercial casinos of its own after passing a landmark casino bill. Previously, the state was one of ten without commercial or tribal casinos. The move will soon see five approved venues opened across the state. These casinos are earmarked for Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Richmond. Senator Louise Lucas is sponsoring the bill.

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe will operate the two casinos based in Richmond and Norfolk. However, any full authorization would need to be approved by voters in the five towns, according to state laws. Another setback is the addition of a gambling study requirement. This stipulation was added during the bill’s consideration by the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology.

Virginia Gambling Study

According to the amendment, the study will need to be complete by November 1. Only then can any referendums be voted on by Virginia residents. It’s unclear whether or not the voters in each city will have access to the results. In fact, there seems to be no purpose for the study. Either way, it will be carried out by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. The commission will need to review other states’ laws for casino gaming and make recommendations.

More so, no referendums can be held before the study is finished. So, any plans for new casinos will be pushed back until at least 2020. No bid can move ahead without voter approval. Of course, this type of stipulation could just be a stalling tactic. After all, the bill only got 28 votes for and 12 against.

Delays for Gambling

While the casino bill is stalled, sports betting in Virginia is also stalled because the sponsor believes that falls under casino gaming. In effect, any form of gambling has to wait for the study. The four states closest to Virginia already have legislation in place. Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey will probably form part of the gambling study. Here’s hoping they have the right things to say.