Virginia Pre-Files Bill That Could Legalize Sports Betting in 2020

  • House Bill 4 was filed by Republican Delegate Barry D. Knight
  • It would legalize casino gaming and sports betting
  • Only one casino license would be available in each city
  • Referendum would be held in each designated city before a casino is allowed
Charleston, West Virginia
Republican Delegate Barry D. Knight has pre-filed House Bill 4, which could result in commercial casinos and sports betting becoming legal in 2020. [Image:]

House Bill 4 pre-filed

A new bill has been pre-filed in the Virginia legislature, which could see commercial casinos and sports betting become legal in the state in 2020.

It was Republican Delegate Barry D. Knight who pre-filed House Bill 4 on Monday. Approval of this bill would result in the Virginia Lottery Board becoming the state’s regulatory body for legal casinos and sports betting.

Eligibility for a casino license

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 cities that tick these boxes. A capital injection of at least $200m would also be required before approval.

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 current Code of Virginia. This change 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 already has legal sportsbooks up and running. 

Follows Senate Bill 1126 approval

Virginia has constantly rebuked attempts over many years to legalize casinos. House Bill 4 is a rehashing of the previous Senate Bill 1126. It was approved by the General Assembly in the most recent legislative session. Democratic Governor Ralph Northam has yet to approve the proposal.

This led to the commissioning of a new study to look at the casino gaming laws in nearby states and to see what sort of social and fiscal impact legalization has had in these states. The study is scheduled to be completed by December 1. 

Local referendums will be needed

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

local referendums would need to take place in each of the cities

The cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth are looking to put their hands up for a casino. Hampton officials are also looking for their city to join this list. Portsmouth has already chosen a site for a casino and has partnered with Rush Street Gaming to run the casino.