Virginia OKs Casino Referendum

This past Monday, the Virginia Senate passed an amended legislation that authorizes a public referendum on casino construction in up to five cities in this state. Out of 40 Senate members, 28 voted in favor of this measure while 12 opposed.

The bill is now heading to the Virginia House of Delegates (also with a Republican majority) where it will be put to another vote. The communities that could conduct referendum votes on this matter are Bristol, Richmond, Danville, Portsmouth and Norfolk.

Several Reviews Pending

However, the revised bill’s language states that it would be the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission – and not the Virginia Lottery Board – who are going to inquire about laws as well as advantages and disadvantages of legalized casino gambling.

Their job will also be giving the best estimate of gambling’s impact on Virginia. Unfortunately for the hopeful communities…

…this prolonged action could take time and would surely delay any public vote held on the question of casino building until the General Assembly reviews this inquiry and takes adequate action.

Also, in the same instance, the Lottery Board would not be allowed to issue any gaming licenses before July 1st 2020.

Ignored Intentions

One of the sponsors of the original bill, 57-year-old Republican State Senator, Bill Carrico, was hoping that legislators would allow referendums to be held in five counties alongside study being conducted simultaneously this fall.

He is the representative of city of Bristol and openly supports local businessmen, Clyde Stacy’s and Jim McGlothlin’s, project (announced last August) to invest approximately $250 million in transformation of the former Bristol Mall into Bristol Resort and Casino.

The senate’s 72-year-old, Thomas Norment, also a Republican, said, on the other hand, that he favors the delay and prohibition of hand out of licenses until mid-2020.

He said: “It just struck me as being rather unusual that we were taking an informative study that was going to have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on informing the voters or informing us as a legislative body what the potential implications of gaming would be in Virginia.”

Sports Betting Looms

Almost at the same time when the casino referendum legislation passed, the Senate Committee on General Laws introduced two brand-new sports betting bills.

This puts Virginia in the driver’s seat to become the ninth US state to have a regulated sports betting market.

Bills SB1238 and SB1356, proposed by Senators, Chapman Peterson and Frank Wagner respectively, differ in their views on online betting. The latter one recognizes it, while in SB1238 there’s no mention of online or mobile sports betting.

Also, Peterson’s measure suggests a new body to be instated – Virginia Sports Betting Department – that would be in charge of regulating all betting on sports events.


“Virginia Senate passes Casino bill”,, February 4, 2019.

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