Legal Alert

Virginia Takes Significant Step Toward Casino Gaming

April 4, 2019
The Commonwealth of Virginia recently enacted Senate Bill 1126, which ostensibly authorizes "casino gaming" in certain locations within the state. Notably, "casino gaming" is defined in the legislation to include sports betting and online gaming as well as more traditional in-person casino games such as poker, blackjack, and roulette.

Casino gaming also would be limited to cities that meet certain very specific criteria relating to poverty rates, unemployment, and population decreases, among other factors. Effectively, the criteria would limit casino gaming to Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Richmond, and Norfolk with Bristol, Danville, and Portsmouth available to commercial operators and Richmond and Norfolk limited to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

However, the legislation provides only limited details on how casino gaming would be structured in Virginia. Effectively, the legislation initiates a lengthy process that may result in casino gaming at the permitted locations but only after (i) the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission releases a report on casino gaming laws in other states due by December 1, 2019, (ii) the Virginia Lottery Board promulgates regulations to implement casino gaming by June 30, 2020, and (iii) the legislation is reenacted by the 2020 Session of the General Assembly. After the state completes each of these steps, each of the eligible cities still must hold a referendum on whether casino gaming may be permitted within the city limits. This referendum must be no later than January 1, 2021.

Ultimately, we do not expect any casino licenses to be made available earlier than July 1, 2020, but the legislation remains a significant step toward the legalization and regulation of casino gaming in Virginia.

Ballard Spahr's Gaming Group helps guide clients through the complex network of federal, state, tribal, and local gaming laws, and represents companies who do business with casinos and must comply with the industry's complex regulatory structure.

Copyright © 2019 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
(No claim to original U.S. government material.)

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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

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