with almost $400 million in estimated tax benefits gambling is an important topic for lawmakers in 2020.

  • Sports betting has now become legal in thirteen states with six other states in line to do the same.
  • Virginia estimates a tax revenue of $55 million annually from sports wagers which is very minor in comparison to the overall estimate of $367 million from the combined legal gambling market.
  • The state lottery has only allotted $30,000 in funding for gambling addiction services for residents.

NORFOLK, Va. – On Monday, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) released a study conducted for the lawmakers of the state to review when they go into their 2020 sessions.

Virginia would be the first state to venture into both legalization of gambling on casino games and sports betting jointly. Every state that has made sports betting legal has done so where they have already had legalized casinos and sports wagering facilities became an extension of their businesses or they’ve chosen to simply have legal sports betting and not add casino gambling.

The Gambling Report

The 202-page report will be used as a foundation for the decision making on the legalization of both forms of gambling when the General Assembly meets. The study was authorized after five cities in the state were given the okay to offer casino gaming in 2019 pending research on the impact of gambling in Virginia.

Within the report were findings that sports betting is much quicker to get off of the ground than the opening of casinos. The report suggests that sports betting should be regulated by the Virginia Lottery for an internet-based sportsbook market. It also adds that while regulations would be set by the lottery, the day to day operations should be run by a well-known online sportsbook presence like that of FanDuel or DraftKings. It is noted within the report that while this would be the fastest and easiest route in the legalization of sports betting, it would hinder the number of jobs and land-based businesses that could benefit from legal sports wagers.

The report remains neutral, as it should, and offers both pros and cons for their findings. Should lawmakers decide to go the internet route and roll out sports betting applications first, this could lead to delays in making casinos a reality. Residents and operators will be focused on legal sports betting and casinos would be put on the back burner. It has been found through the study that if the state wishes to make both pastimes legal, they should both be offered to residents at the same time to make it a more even playing field for revenue purposes.

Gaming is already occurring within areas where the laws are not as concise. Reports show that there are between 4,500 to 9,200 slot style gambling machines in use. Based on pure estimation, because there is no regulation on these machines, it is said that they are raking in anywhere between $83 million and $468 million yearly.

“Estimating revenue for grey machines or their impact to other types of gaming is difficult because of the unregulated nature of the industry,” says the report. “The number of devices, amount of customer play, payout percentages and locations are generally unknown to the state. Furthermore, one of the prominent device manufacturers declined to provide the JLARC study team data on machine revenues.”

Remaining factors that should be taken into consideration by lawmakers are the location for which their casinos and sports betting lounges will be. Studies have found that poorer areas may see more problems with gambling addiction. Addicts or problem gamblers are a prevalent issue among lower-income families.

Should this become a real problem later on, the $30,000 in funding by the lottery for gambling addiction will need to be raised to meet the needs of the public. Areas with a more affluent population may draw more money into establishments without as much risk for individuals to develop an addiction. The General Assembly will have plenty of factors to consider when they meet in 2020.

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