Virginia Pre-Files Bill to Legalize Sports Betting Next Year

Nov 28

Commercial casinos and sports betting could be made legal in the state of Virginia in 2020 after a new bill was pre-filed in the legislature by Republican Delegate Barry D. Knight.

The approval of House Bill 4 would pave the way for the Virginia Lottery Board becoming the state’s regulatory body for legal casinos and sports betting.

As part of this bill, casinos could be located in: “Any city in which at least 40 percent of the assessed value of all real estate in such locality is exempt from local property taxation.”

A sole casino license would be issued in areas that fulfill these requirements. A capital injection of at least $200m would also be needed before approval is given.

The city also needs to have seen its population fall by at least 7% between 1990 and 2016. Census data will be used to confirm such figures.

This bill is calling for the amendment of the existing Code of Virginia. This modification would see casino gaming become legal. As per this bill, sports betting is included as an activity under the heading of casino gaming. The neighboring state of West Virginia is already running legal sportsbooks.

Over the last few years, Virginia has consistently put down attempts to legalize casinos. House Bill 4 is a rehashing of the previous Senate Bill 1126. It was ratified by the General Assembly in the most recent legislative session. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam however, has yet to sign off on the proposal.

This led to the commissioning of a new study to evaluate the casino gaming laws in nearby states and check what kind of social and fiscal effect legalization has had in these states. The study would be completed by December 1.

As part of the Senate bill, local referendums would need to take place in each of the cities in which casino operations may be situated. The pre-filing of House Bill 4 was needed to allow these local referendums to be conducted during the November 2020 ballots.

Norfolk and Portsmouth are looking to vie for a casino. Hampton officials are also looking for their city to throw their hat in for a casino. Portsmouth has already picked a site for a casino and has collaborated with Rush Street Gaming to run the casino.