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Virginia Governor Signs Casino Bill Into Law

Casinos In Three Economically Disadvantaged Cities Could Come To The State By 2022

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Casino gambling could be coming to Virginia thanks to a signature from Gov. Ralph Northam (D). Last Friday, Northam signed SB 1126 into law, which makes it very likely that brick-and-mortar casinos will be coming to the state.

The new law forces the Joint Legislative and Review Commission to conduct a study of casino gaming regulations, due back by Dec. 1. The law also establishes the state lottery as the casino regulatory body.

The bill will allow for the construction of commercial casinos in Portsmouth, Danville and Bristol, three cities which the government feels are economically challenged. It also gives the Pamunkey Tribe the go-ahead to build casinos in Norfolk and Richmond.

Even with the signature, a fully-operational casino is still years away from happening. According to local media outlets, a casino in Danville wouldn’t open until 2022 and wouldn’t be at full capacity until 2028. The project will cost about $250 million.

The legislation requires lawmakers in the state to revisit the issue next year before ground is broken on any casino. The legislature must re-enact this law in 2020 after the commission delivers its report to the Lottery Board before finalizing the regulations.

Before construction begins, residents of the prospective city would also need to vote and approve the casino as a ballot measure. After the state’s regulatory framework is finalized, the state would start handing out licenses on July 1, 2020.

Northam believes that bringing casinos to his state will bring a positive economic impact. According to a study by Chmura Economics and Analytics, a casino in Danville would generate 6,834 jobs, bringing in $20.3 million in yearly tax revenue by 2028.

Casinos would be taxed between 13-15 percent on their revenue, depending on their adjusted gross revenue.