Virginia Senate Committee Advances Bill Enabling Petersburg Casino Referendum

Written By Derek Helling on January 29, 2024
Virginia government leaders applaud

A fifth Virginia casino may get a third shot in a second city. As many numbers as fill that statement, the only real numbers that matter going forward for those who hope to erect a casino in their Virginia municipalities are the numbers of state legislators behind the idea.

A Virginia Senate committee recently advanced a couple of bills that would establish votes to enable casino gaming in different parts of the state. One of those bills received greater support than the other. The same committee also took some action that sports fans in Virginia may applaud regardless of where they live.

Virginia Senate committee recommends bills to body

As is normally the case at the beginning of legislative sessions, the Virginia Senate’s General Laws and Technology Committee has been busy. Among bills that the committee recently reported out favorably is a bill that would remove Richmond from the list of potential host sites for a brick-and-mortar casino. Voters in Richmond rejected casino gaming on the ballot twice.

Two other bills represent potential options to replace Richmond. Among them is Petersburg, which has already been pushing toward that end in the state legislature. The committee reported that bill out unanimously.

The other current contender is the greater Fairfax County area. While the bill has advanced, it received less acclaim from the committee, getting 10 votes in favor and five nay votes with one abstention. As another important point, another bill would limit the frequency of potential casino referendums in such areas to no more than once every three years.

Should the Virginia Senate at large approve of the Fairfax County or Petersburg proposals and the Assembly of Delegates follow suit soon, voters in that respective region could be voting on the issue of whether to enable casino gaming in their vicinity this fall. There are many conversations yet to be had around the debate of which of the two contenders would be preferable.

According to an article by Graham Moomaw of News From The States, support for casinos in both regions could be low. Thus, gaming proponents in either Fairfax County or Petersburg might come away from this legislative session disappointed. Sports bettors in Virginia who have been disappointed in the available markets got some good news.

Bill to expand legal betting on college sports moves forward

Under current Virginia law, licensed sportsbooks in Virginia cannot accept wagers on events that involve in-state college teams. That means no betting on Virginia Tech American football or University of Virginia basketball, for example.

SB 124, which the committee reported favorably, would change that to some degree. Virginia sportsbooks could accept pre-game and live wagers on game outcomes like moneylines, spreads, and totals incorporating in-state college teams. Prop bets on such contests would remain illegal, however.

Whether or not SB 124 will enjoy such support in the larger Senate, in the Assembly, or with Gov. Glenn Youngkin remains unclear. For those who want to legally wager on the Cavaliers and Hokies among others, though, it’s a step in the right direction.

Photo by AP Photo/Steve Helber
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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