Virginia gambling expansion bill passed, online poker possibleMarch 26, 2019 7:13 pm
A massive gambling expansion bill was passed into law in Virginia which could see the state build its first brick and mortar casinos and bring online poker to the state.
The bill, known as SB 1126 passed votes in the Virginia Senate (30-10) and the House in February. From there, it only needed the signature of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who signed it late last week.
When the bill was originally filed by Senator L. Louise Lucas, it focused mainly on expanding land-based gaming in the state and the construction of the first casinos. Along the way, it grew and now also includes language for online poker and online gaming in general.
How did Virginia gambling expansion happen?
Let’s look at how it could lead to casinos first. Under the bill the Virginia Joint Legislative and Review Commission must conduct a study on casino gaming regulations by December.
Once the study is filed, the Virginia Lottery Board – which has been given regulatory authority over casinos and gambling in the state – will have the first half of 2020 to develop casino regulations for the state. Then the state legislature will have the chance to re-enact the bill.
If that happens, casinos could be built in approved cities in Virginia. There’s already a list of cities being considered including Portsmouth, Danville and Bristol. The Pamunkey Tribe has also been given the green light to build casinos in Norfolk and Richmond if the bill gets through the final stages.
Even if everything goes to plan, the first casinos in the state aren’t expected to be opened until 2022. Before construction could begin in any of the cities mentioned, the residents would also need to vote on it.
What games are proposed?
Now, about the bills allowance of online gambling in the state. In the bill, casino gaming is defined as “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 (§ 58.1-4100 et seq.).”
The inclusion of the words ‘online gaming’ are the key here. The bill doesn’t go into any details on how online gambling would be allowed or regulated in Virginia. But by including it in the bill, it effectively legalizes it in the state.
As the lengthy process to bring casinos to the state unfolds, it will be interesting to see if Virginia also moves on online gambling and poker. Or will they will shelve both until their casino infrastructure is in place?