It´s a misnomer to say that sports gambling could come to a particular state, since the activity has always been available, albeit illegally.  Thanks to the Supreme Court telling lawmakers they were wrong in letting PASPA see the light of day in 1992, states across the country are now looking to legalize sports betting and capture revenue from it at the same time, and now is the turn of Virginia.

A handful of states have already legalized sports gambling and another one could be added next year, provided the cards fall the right way.  Virginia, long against virtually any type of gambling, is ready to address a bill that would open the doors to casino gaming as well as sports wagers.

Could Virginia Legalize Sports Betting?

Virginia Delegate Barry D. Knight didn’t want to wait until the next legislation session starts in January, so he pre-filed House Bill Number 4 (HB 4) this week.  It seeks to amend the Code of Virginia, and its antiquated gambling prohibition, to allow legalized casino gaming and sports betting.  As it stands now, HB 4 is written to give authority over the space to the Virginia Lottery Board.

The bill follows on the hills of Senate Bill 1126 (SB 1126), filed during the last legislative session.  It was drafted to commission on study on casino gaming laws in other states and how the activity has impacted both fiscal and social responsibilities.  The results are expected to be delivered no later than December 1, and lawmakers are going to see that, in almost all instances, the outcome has been favorable.  States that have legalized sports wagers are starting to see economic benefits, even if they’re not yet raking in millions, and will continue to improve as more gamblers get involved.

Curiously, most states that are still holding fast against legalized sports betting do so because of the negative social implications associated with the activity.  However, this hasn’t stopped any of them from eagerly embracing lotteries and instant-win scratch-off tickets, Virginia included.  Still, the state is going to have to face the possibility of allowing more types of gambling as the activity continues to catch on around the country.

HB 4 doesn’t provide a lot of detail on how the industry would be managed; it’s more of a placeholder so lawmakers will dedicate time to discussing the topic in the upcoming session.  There would be a new chapter added to the Virginia Code, aptly called Casino Gaming, and would allow local residents to ultimately determine if they want the activity in their back yard.  If everything goes smoothly, those voter referendums would appear on ballots next November.

What Next In Virginia?

Some areas in Virginia are already chomping at the bit to see legalized gambling and sports betting come and want to be ready as soon as some type of legislation is approved.  Rush Street Gaming, according to local news, has been tapped to set up and run a casino resort in Portsmouth on a site that sits close to Tidewater Community College.

There is still a lot that has to be worked out.  About the only thing that is known is that a single license would be issued to a “casino gaming project that involves a minimum capital investment of $200 million, which may include investments in land facilities, infrastructure, equipment, or furnishings.”

No mention has been made of mobile wagers or how taxes could be applied.  Chances are, Virginia will be smarter than Pennsylvania (and Illinois) and keep the tax rates at a reasonable level for legalized sports betting.  There is also no mention of whether or not wagers will be allowed on college games or how the money will be used.  But, at least it’s a step in the right direction.