Efforts to Expand Gambling in Virginia Continue

It seems most everything has shut down over the past few weeks due to the coronavirus. Most everyone in the United States are keeping to themselves in the hopes that the virus will slow down and we can get back to normal as soon as possible. While most of us are doing nothing, it seems the legislators in Virginia have stayed busy in an attempt to see gambling expanded in the state. just recently, a bill to see the gambling industry grow reached the governor’s desk and he seems ready to sign.

Gambling Expansion Efforts

Governor Ralph Northam just recently received a bill that would see gambling change in the state of Virginia. The governor seems to be ready to add new options but has staid that he has prepared some changes that need to be approved before he will sign the dotted line. If the legislators are not in agreement, it might just be back to the drawing board for the state.

For more than a year now, lawmakers have been working on a bill to add more gaming options to the state. Progress was made in March as an agreement was made via House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 36. However, Northam did not like all the details.

Northam promised to devote more state funds to education and basically told legislators that an element needed to be included where money from gaming would go to education. Now in the bills, it lists that two-third of tax revenues from casinos will go to build new schools. Before, the bills had the money going to a general fund.

Northam wants to see the bills have language that reflects that the money will go to the construction of new schools as well as renovation and repairs of existing facilities. The language is broad and the governor wants it to be more concise.

Both versions of the gambling expansion bill will see five casinos created in the state. Richmod, Bristol, Portsmouth, Danville and Norfolk will be the areas where the casinos will be constructed. The cities were chosen due to economic need. Each of the locations have a high unemployment and poverty rate for the state.

For now, lawmakers will need to consider the changes set by the governor and how they should proceed. The legislature is set to meet on the 22nd of this month to discuss the merits of the suggestions. If they are in agreement, then the final bill will be signed into law.

If the changes are rejected, the bill will have to go back to the desk of the governor and he will most likely veto the measure.

Should the measure move forward, then residents in the state will be able to vote on a measure this November. A simple majority is needed for the bill to become law. Even if everything falls into place, it will still take some time to get going, especially considering that the state is basically shutdown due to the coronavirus outbreak and there are no signs as to when things will get back to normal.


Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.