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Virginia Legislature Passes Casino Gaming And Sports Betting Bills

Bills Head To Gov. Ralph Northam, Who Is Expected To Sign Both

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The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation Sunday that would allow casinos in five economically depressed cities and another bill that would allow sports betting.

These two bills, along with several others passed during an extra day of the 2020 legislative session, will now head to Gov. Ralph Northam for his signature. Both bills received bipartisan support and Northam is expected to sign them into law, according to the Washington Examiner.

Richmond, Danville, Norfolk, Bristol and Portsmouth are the five cities that now have the option to build a casino. The bill gives voters the final say as the issue must pass a city-wide referendum in November. If passed by the electorate, ground can be broken on the properties and the Virginia Lottery would act as the regulatory body for casino gaming.

The legislation lays out a tiered tax plan where operators will be taxed anywhere between 18 and 30 percent. Casinos will be taxed 18 percent on the first $200 million of gross income, 23 percent between $200 and $400 million and 30 percent on anything that exceeds $400 million.

The bulk of that tax revenue will go to the state government, but city governments will get a smaller piece as it budgets six, seven and eight percent of those same tiers to the city government that houses the casino.

In its sports betting bill, Virginia followed the footsteps of Tennessee by passing a bill that only legalized online sports betting. In theory, since city residents could vote against casino construction and there wouldn’t immediately be anywhere to place a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. Passing additional legislation that would allow in-person betting would be much easier following the initial passage of the online bill.

The lottery will oversee the sports betting industry and operators will have any revenue taxed at 15 percent. Licenses will cost $250,000 for a three-year license and $200,000 for its annual renewal.

Betting on Virginia college sports is prohibited. A professional sports team that relocates to Virginia would also be able to apply for a license. Washington Redskins owner Danial Snyder was lobbying Maryland lawmakers for a gambling license in January. A move to Virginia could be in the works if it’s easier for him to get it.