Ralph Northam, the governor of Virginia has recently signed a gambling bill that will effectively open the doors for online poker and online gambling in the state. Known as SB 1126, the bill gives the Joint Legislative and Review Commission the go-ahead to undertake a detailed study of casino gaming in the state – in essence, the fact that governor has signed the ruled does not mean that the residents of the state will have access to gambling services immediately.
In fact, there are multiple requirements that have to be met before the Virginian people can begin to legally gamble. After the study of the gambling laws and atmosphere in the states, there will be yet another vote by the General Assembly. In addition to that, the initiative will also have to be approved by the citizens of the state before it finally gets the green light to proceed further.
Five Cities to Vote
SB 1126 will allow certain cities within the state to hold referenda on whether or not they should allow casino gambling with the state’s lottery board being put in charge of overseeing all gaming operations. Unfortunately, the timeline for these referenda has not been specified yet since the bill will have to be re-enacted by the General Assembly during the 2020 gaming session. Once that happens the lottery board will be given until the end of June next. The licensing process will begin in July 2020.
The cities that are currently allowed to hold a referendum include Norfolk and Richmond, both of which have been are being considered to be the locations of a tribal casino operated by the Pamunkey Indian tribe. To acquire any of the gaming licenses, the casino operators will have to be prepared to put forward a minimum capital investment of a whopping $200 million.
“We are looking to stay engaged and working to see this through the process and we are still committed to doing the project in Bristol,” a spokesman for the project said in a statement. “We’ve got a way to go but there is a commitment by lots of parties to go through this process that will hopefully allow us to move forward.”
In addition to all that, online poker seems to be making a major debut in the industry – the bill includes some language that will effectively open the door for online poker as well as other games. As such, there is a huge possibility that further down the line, the lottery board may, in fact, have provisions to facilitate and allow online poker to be part of the state’s gaming portfolio.