Will Virginia Make Progress Towards Casino Legalization In 2020?

Although the majority of states in America have legalized some form of casino gambling, there are nine of them that still have a very negative opinion about this type of entertainment.

Virginia, being one of those states, has been recently examined by many casino operators as one of the next states to legalize commercial or tribal casinos. However, gambling is still a very controversial topic in the commonwealth.

According to some politicians, it’s time that the state seized the opportunity that this industry brings. One of the main arguments for lifting the gambling prohibition is that it will bring additional tax revenues and create thousands of new jobs.

There are realistic hopes nowadays that Virginia could actually take a step forward towards opening its first casino. Namely, for the first time in two decades, pro-Casino democrats make the majority in the Senate and the House of Delegates in the state, meaning they could really go for it.

Will Virginia Legalize Gambling?

Those who advocate gambling legalization also rely on the peer pressure factor. Dozens of other states have already legalized this kind of entertainment and are already making huge profits from it. Moreover, we’re living in the day and age of online casinos, which are growing popular every day.

Finally, there’s sports betting, which is one of the newest additions to the gambling family of the US. More than 20 states have already legalized wagering on sports, and more are preparing legal framework to do the same.

Will Virginia lawmakers succumb to the peer pressure posed by other American states?

Hopefully, we will get some of the answers during and after the 60-day session of the General Assembly that will start on Jan. 8. One of the hot topics that officials will discuss would be the future of gambling in the state.
Virginia Has Some Location Problems For Casinos

Although there are no visible signs of Virginia making some concrete moves when it comes to building casinos, there were attempts to do just that in the recent past. Namely, Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation that allowed the building of five casinos in Norfolk, Richmond, Portsmouth, Danville, and Bristol.

However, after a long discussion about these locations, it seems that some other options opened up along the way. Namely, it seems that the five locations that were chosen by the legislation might not prove as profitable as some other places, especially in North Virginia.

Therefore, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) conducted an analysis that predicted that the five casinos would generate approximately $260 million in taxes every year. Moreover, they would create about 5,000 jobs for people in the five cities.

The problem was that the analysis found another place in Northern Virginia that proved much more lucrative in comparison to the five cities. A casino resort in Northern Virginia, which is the most densely populated area of the commonwealth, would alone bring in $155 million in taxes every year and create approximately 3,200 jobs.

The only casino in that area is MGM National Harbor, which is a gaming complex currently worth about $1.4 billion. The new casino would be a competitor to MGM’s complex and would be a much better option for Virginia.

At the moment, the only thing available in Virginia gambling-wise is horse racing machines, which were allowed back in 2018 when the state showed the first sign of removing the anti-gambling ban. Hopefully, that trend will continue in 2020, and we will see the first casinos in the area in the future.


A sports enthusiast, Ryan helps cover sports betting news from around the country, highlighting some of the more interesting events going on in the USA.