Virginia bill looks to create an in state casino and sports betting industry.

  • There are currently no casinos in Virginia.
  • VA SB 1126 was passed during the 2019 legislative session. The bill would allow for casinos with sports betting to be built if it is passed again in the 2020 session.
  • The pre-filed bill gives little to no details on how sports betting in Virginia would work.

RICHMOND, Va. – Casino gaming and sports betting will be back on the table for lawmakers in Virginia to debate during the 2020 legislative session.

On Monday, Rep. Barry D. Knight pre-filed the casino and sports betting bill titled VA HB 4 in the statehouse. If passed, the bill would put legalized casino gaming, along with VA sports betting on the 2020 November ballot. The Virginia Lottery Board would be the regulatory agency that oversees the new gambling industry.

The bill is an extension of VA SB 1126, which passed during the 2019 legislative session. Certain measures in VA SB 1126 required the bill to be passed again during an election year so that constitutional amendments for the state could be determined by voters.

The 2019 gambling bill also required that a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) conduct a study and come up with an in-depth report on casino gaming laws based on other states.

That report is due on December 1, 2019, and findings from the report will be used to further develop regulations and rules for casino gaming and sports betting in Virginia.

What Does The Virginia Bill Say About Casino Gaming?

The pre-filed bill for 2020, like its 2019 counterpart, is a bit ambiguous when it comes to how casinos would be implemented into the Commonwealth.

According to the bills, “any city in which at least 40 percent of the assessed value of all real estate in such locality is exempt from local property taxation” and which their population has decreased by at least seven percent from 1990 to 2016, is capable of applying for a single casino license.

Local referendums would have to occur in those towns as well, and any company looking to build a gaming venue in those areas would have to invest at least $200 million into the project.

Cities such as Norfolk and Portsmouth would qualify under those conditions. Portsmouth officials have already chosen Rush Street Gaming LLC to build a casino in the area, given regulatory approval, per The Virginian Pilot.

The Rules Regarding Sports Betting In Virginia

The bills only recognize VA sports betting as a type of game that could be offered by licensed casinos. The topic of online sportsbooks is not mentioned in either piece of legislation.

Other key issues that have stifled lawmakers when considering to legalize sports betting are also not addressed.

Matters such as what the tax rate would be on VA sportsbooks, whether or not sports betting operators would have to pay a royalty to the leagues, and the rules concerning collegiate sports betting in Virginia were all left out of the bills.

VA SB 1126 would put the Virginia Lottery Board in charge of authorizing different types of gambling activities. So, if those terms are to stay, there is a chance that sports wagering in Virginia won’t be approved.

However, with a casino gaming report coming from the JLARC in the coming weeks and a new legislative session coming next year, amendments can be added by lawmakers to further specify the rules regarding VA sports betting.

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