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Virginia Governor Signs Historic Gambling Bill

March 27, 2019
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The governor of Virginia has put his signature on an important piece of legislation. A few days ago, Governor Ralph Northam signed a doorway senate bill which will open way for casino operators to start business in the Old Dominion. This bill however is not the be all and end all of casino gambling bills. All the Senate Bill 1126 (SB 1126) does is bring all those who have fought for legal land-based casino operations in Virginia closer to their goal. The governor stated earlier in January 2019 that he wanted to be responsible in how they carried out the legalization of casinos. His hopes are his open-mindedness would keep the gambling revenue which would be otherwise lost to other states, within Virginia. Naturally not everyone is happy about the signing of this bill. Some think the state will now be littered with casinos. Not so, only certain cities will get to have casinos and this will be regulated. Let us delve into what the senate bills spells for the state of Virginia.

How does the Senate Gambling Bill Affect Virginia?

As we alluded to earlier, the signing of the bill does not mean casinos will be a dime-a-dozen in the state. What the bill simply does is give the authorized cities rights to hold referendums and votes on whether they want casinos in their cities or not. However, this referendum system is only expected to take effect in late 2020.

Virginia Lottery Board is tasked with kickstarting the referendum voting as well as regulating gambling operations in the state. The senate bill mandates the state’s lottery board to conduct a complete and far-reaching study on how the existence of these casinos will impact Virginia socially and economically. After such research has been conducted, likely the senate will go back to the drawing board to either go ahead with or repeal the bill.

How Many Casino Operators Will be Allowed in Virginia?

Virginia is one of the few states that is yet to legalize gambling. At present there are limited land-based gambling operations. The only gambling options Virginia citizens have been the lottery, horse racing and charity gambling events. Currently only five cities are provisionally allowed to have gambling operations, these are—Portsmouth, Danville, Bristol, Richmond and Norfolk. Portsmouth, Danville, Bristol have been chosen because they stand to benefit from an economic boost. They are to be run by the local Virginia native Indian tribe, Pamunkey.