Summary: Virginia is the latest state in the US focusing in on a major gambling expansion, including iGaming, casinos and sports betting.
The state of Virginia is one of only a select few that does not have casino gaming. However, that may all soon change as a gaming expansion bill has made its way to the desk of Governor Ralph Northam, just a signature away from offering casino gaming, online gambling and sports betting. The governor has until the 26th of this month to sign the bill into law.
The legislation under consideration is SB 1126. The bill would allow the Virginia Lottery Board to approve a casino license per city in the state, if the city meets certain criteria. The criteria include at least 40% of the land area has to be exempt from local real property taxation. Or 24% if an Indian tribe of the state is conducting gaming.
The city must also have an unemployment rate of 5% in November 2017 or at 4% if located next to a stat the has Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act. The population must also be larger than 200,000 based on estimates from 2017.
Any casino in the state must also provide the local community with support. On top of the stated criteria, a proposal for a casino must pass via a local referendum that is adopted before January 1st, 2021.
Along with casino gaming, the bill focuses on online gambling and sports betting. The language is minimal in this category but we do know that the Lottery Board will be in charge of how these two categories operate.
Because the state has never offered casino gaming, all eyes are on potential sites for construction. Bristol has long been a contender as a local group have proposed a project for the city that would cost $150 million to create. The casino would be located at the former mall of the city, a venue that closed in 2017.
Another casino is being considered for Norfolk. The Pamunkey Indian Tribe would like to create a casino in this region. If legislation moves forward and is signed into law, it would not be surprising to find major players in the gaming industry trying to move into the state, such as MGM.
While the possibility of gaming in Virginia is positive, it will still take some time to get the industry up and running. It will be a year minimum before groundbreaking could begin and then probably another year before a casino would be able to open.
A license would not be available for issuing until July 2020. This is due to provisions of the act coming into effect in January of next year and the regulations process being completed by June 2020.
Virginia should do well with casino gaming as they are one of the larger states in the US. They also have a strong economy which leads to more funds to be spent by consumers. The state actually ranks 12th in the US based on population with 8.5 million residents.
The city ranks well based on income with Virginia sitting in the 13th position when it comes to disposable income. So, while the industry may take some time to develop and begin operations, success should be imminent.
We will watch over the coming days to see if the governor signs the bill into law and if Virginia will be the latest state in the US to make major changes in their gambling industry. With casinos, online gaming and sports betting, the state is set to make a wealth of changes!