Virginia Making Big Moves to Expand Gambling

Virginia traditionally has been very conservative about gambling, but the state is making a number of moves to open up its gambling laws such as opening the first casino, as well as legal sports betting.

The Pamunkey Indian tribe has plans to create a new casino resort complex worth $700m in Virginia. This would be the first of its kind in the region and sited in downtown Norfolk.

The tribe believes that this project will create thousands of jobs, as well as bringing in more than $1bn to the local economy each year.

Is this casino viable?

The Pamunkey is looking at a piece of land spanning 20 hectares, in between the stadium for a minor league baseball team and an Amtrak station. This site has links to the tribe, which is one of the reasons why it is so significant in their casino plans.

The tribe plans on turning this site into a world-class casino resort that will be of great help to the local community and wider region.It is presenting its proposal to the city in the near future, at which time it will lay out all of the specifics.

They already have an agreement in principle for the project, with the finer details now needing to be looked at. However, before anything can progress, the Indian Affairs bureau needs to give its approval.

The bureau will be deciding whether or not the proposed site is in fact on ancestral lands. If this turns out not to be the case, then an alternative site for this project will have to be found.

City mayor Kenneth Alexander commented on the potential of this project coming to Norfolk.

He says: “The tribe’s decision validates Norfolk as an emerging destination for tourism in the mid-Atlantic. The heritage of the Pamunkey Indian tribe also connects them to our region, and we look forward to continuing our conversation and creating another destination for Norfolk.”

Currently, as per state law, casinos are still not legal. However, there are a lot of positive signs that this is set to change in the near future. Lawmakers have many plans in the works to open up these laws in 2019.

Potential for sports betting

The Virginia Senator Chap Petersen is planning to introduce new legislation that would bring legal sports betting into the state, dubbed the Virginia Sports Gaming Tuition Reduction Act.

His proposal is for the subsequent taxation revenues to go towards lowering tuition fees at the community colleges in the state. There would also not be any betting on college sports.

Petersen said: “There is no reason to keep it illegal when our neighboring states are already moving to legalize. We should keep that business in Virginia, along with the tax revenue.”

Before any license could be issued, there would need to be local referendums on the issue for each municipality.

Delegate Mark Sickles has drafted a not dissimilar bill that would see a 15% tax brought in on the revenues deriving from sports betting. This would mean that about $40m would go into the state coffers each year, according to his estimates.

Sickle’s bill, however, would only ban bets on games involving college teams from Virginia. He also wants to put the state lottery in charge of sports betting, which would then have the power to issue five licenses as it sees fit.

Sickles is confident that his draft bill has a lot of potential and would help establish a solid framework.

He said: “This legislation provides a framework for an open, transparent and responsible market for legal sports betting. It will protect consumers while generating revenue to allow Virginia to compete for major research projects that create jobs and help to diversify our economy away from over-reliance on federal spending.”

Whatever the case may be, most people are confident that sports betting will be coming to Virginia in the near future.

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