After many readings and amendments, Virginia legislators agreed upon Senate Bill 1126 on Saturday, which is the first step in allowing legal sports betting in the state.

The bill was approved in the Senate by a vote of 30-10. It still requires the signature of approval from Democratic Governor Ralph Norman, who has explained it is very likely he will support any bill that aids in the development and job growth of Virginia.

SB 1126 details include legalizing casino gaming, which includes sports betting, but limits the number of licenses and the locations of the casinos.

Cities must have an unemployment rate of at least 4%, have had a 7% or more population decline since 1990, and hold a poverty rate of at least 20%. Furthermore, the cities must hold a referendum, which must be adopted before 2021, to ensure the voters are on board for the expansion.

The cities in the discussion are Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Richmond, and Norfolk and each city is only allowed one license, should their residents approve the measure.

Before any of this occurs, the Virginia Lottery Board must complete a study that would reflect on the financial and social impact of passing SB 1126. The study would be presented by the end of the year.

This timeframe would allow the licenses to be issued in summer of 2020 and for referendums to take place in that November voting cycle.

The gambling revenue is projected to be taxed anywhere from 13 to 15 percent.

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