The US state of Virginia is all set to allow land-based casinos to operate in its region, along with legalizing sports betting. A Virginian Democratic Senator by the name of Louise Lucas introduced a bill called SB 1126, detailing legalization of casino gaming in the state and the Senate passed it on Monday, 4th February.
SB 1126 has been passed by a vote of 28 to 12 in the Senate and could lead to the opening of Virginia’s first casino, located in the independent city of Bristol. The bill, after receiving the Senate’s collective nod, will go to the House of Delegates for its approval and further to Virginia’s governor Ralph Northam for signing and ultimately to the voters, who have final and binding right about the decision.
The bill, if crosses all the hurdles in its way, will include casino games like poker, blackjack, slot machines, baccarat, craps, roulette along with sports betting in the proposed Bristol Resort and Casino and pave way for future land-based casinos.
The Senate Committee had amended the bill last week and included a requirement of an in-depth legislative study to be conducted by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission. The commission would review casino gaming laws in other states and assess impacts on Virginia before the matter could be put before voters.
The bill also prohibits Lottery Board from issuing licenses to operate a gaming operation before July 1, 2020. A total of 7 gambling related bills were introduced in Virginia in this session but this one especially seems to be building momentum and is expected to be passed in due time.
The speaker of the house though, Kirk Cox, has earlier opposed casinos saying, “I do not believe opening the commonwealth to casino gambling is in the state’s long-term best interests. I will continue to strongly oppose casino gambling and will encourage my colleagues to oppose it as well.”
However, the governor Northam was quoted somewhere as saying that he was “open to a conversation about keeping [casino] revenue in the commonwealth,” though he could be out of the office at the end of the current session owing to a race-related scandal he is involved in recently.
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