Virginia Governor signs gambling expansion bill into law

Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill into law that could pave the way for casinos and sports betting in the state.

The bill, titled SB 1126, received approval from state lawmakers in February and was signed into law by Northam on Friday.

The bill would essentially start the process for the legalization and implementation of casino gambling in Virginia.

According to the bill, casino gambling includes “baccarat, blackjack, twenty-one, poker, craps, dice, slot machines, sports betting, roulette wheels, Klondike tables, punchboards, faro layouts, keno layouts, numbers tickets, push cards, jar tickets, pull tabs, online gaming, and any other activity that is authorized by the Board as a wagering game or device under Chapter 41”

As sports betting falls under the realm of casino gambling in Virginia it is likely that sports betting in Virginia could become a reality relatively soon.

The bill grants the Virginia Lottery Board the power to authorize different types of gambling meaning the legalization of sports betting in Virginia is at the discretion of the Virginia Lottery Board.

The bill would also limit sports betting to land-based gambling venues and does not contain any provisions for online sports betting.

Although the bill has been signed into law, there is a long way to go before any gambling expansion can take place in Virginia.

First of all, a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) will produce and deliver a report on the casino gambling laws in other states by 1 December 2019.

State regulators will then have the first half of 2020 to formulate regulations for casino gambling in Virginia. From here the 2020 legislature will decide if it wants to re-enact the bill based on the proposed regulations.

If the legislature does approve regulation for casino gambling, then lawmakers in certain jurisdictions will be able to hold referendums to legalize casino gambling.

According to the bill, cities that have faced a 7% decline in population between 1990 and 2016 with an unemployment rate of at least 4% and a poverty rate of 20% can hold referendums to allow casino gambling.

The bill would also authorize federally recognized tribes to operate tribal gambling establishments in cities with a population of at least 200,000 where 24% of all real estate is exempt from local property tax.

In other regulatory news, the state of Rhode Island has officially legalized mobile sports betting.

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