The current state of online gambling in Virginia
Story by John Woods
If you’re an avid gambler who resides in the no-casino-gambling state of Virginia, you’ll be pleased to know that things could be changing for the better.
Though the state is widely known as one of the country’s last major opponents to on-site gambling, in March this year Governor Ralph Northam signed the SB 1126 bill. This is predicted to set the wheels in motion for the legalization of online casino gaming within the next few years.
Other states that have regulated online gambling in the past include New Jersey, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. After the US Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that the PASPA act was no longer valid, several states including New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, and West Virginia began offering sports betting services.
As progressive as this new bill is, it is important to note that the bill has not legalized online gambling per se but has called out the Joint Legislative and Review Commission to complete a detailed study on casino gambling in the state.
What is SB 1126?
Initially, when the bill was first brought into the discussion, it was only intended to tackle the issue regarding the extension of the existing land-based gambling industry in the state. Since then, however, after going through a series of legislative revisions, it has come to refer not only to the land-based gambling industry but to sports betting and legitimate online gambling, too.
Though rarely mentioned explicitly in the wording of the bill itself, it is very much believed that SB 1126 will eventually lead to the legality of sportsbooks and online gambling platforms in the state of Virginia. For example, at one specific point in the bill, it clearly states:
“‘Casino gaming’ means baccarat, blackjack, pull tabs, online gaming, and any other activity that is authorized by the Board as a wagering game or device under Chapter 41.”
With this in mind, we can expect the bill to have a significant impact on the legality of online gambling in Virginia, which is great news for those fans of casino gaming residing in the state who have suffered under the restrictions for so many years.
What Happens Next?
As exciting as this news may be for Virginian gamblers, it is important to add that the bill has not yet been implemented into the State’s legislation and three more key provisions must first be stipulated before the declaration can be made official.
Firstly, a Comprehensive Casino Gaming Study must be carried out by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) whereby a thorough report on current gaming laws will be carried out and submitted by December 1, 2019.
After this, the board will then make Regulation Changes based on the information gathered in the study. With this information, it will be possible to amend, abolish, or approve both new and existing regulations that will affect the legal gambling industry in Virginia.
Finally, once all of the aforementioned steps are taken, the legal regulative should reach its final form by June 2020. It is during this application and licensing frame that separate cities and jurisdictions with extended authority will be able to pass their votes on their local gambling industry.
What is the Future of Virginia’s Gambling Industry?
Given how vague the bill is, it’s hard to say with any certainty what will happen if it does come to pass. However, analysts have made numerous predictions of what could happen, with three of the most popular theories being listed below:
- An in-depth look at sports betting, online gaming, as well as land-based casinos
- Choosing two of the three formats and discarding one so that the others can prosper
- Sticking with the original plan to address land-based casinos and ignoring the rest
Depending on which of the three directions are taken over the next 18 months, Virginia could soon cast off its past limitations to become one of the most progressive gambling states in North America. Aside from giving gamers what they want and allowing them to enjoy themselves without restriction, this shift could do wonders for the economy of the state and it is exciting to think about what positive changes will come in the future.
About John Woods:
John is a professional copywriter with seven years of experience creating gripping content for a wide variety of audiences. His work has been published on UC Today, No Jitter, OUSC, and InGenius. He’s a versatile writer who specializes in the fields of technology, cloud communications, as well as gaming and online casinos. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, watching football, playing guitar, and trying to learn Spanish.