A growing number of gambling bills are piling up in the Virginia General Assembly. Legalized casino gambling, online lottery ticket sales, sports betting and so-called “games of skill” are all topics of the nearly two dozen bills waiting to be reviewed in Virginia’s House and Senate.
The current complete list of proposed gambling legislation for the 2020 General Assembly appears by bill name, committee and subject below.
- HB 4: Lottery Board; regulation of casino gaming.
- HB 496: Virginia Tourism Authority; marketing model for casinos.
- HB 881: Illegal gambling; skill games, exception.
- HB 896: Virginia Lottery; repeals prohibition against internet lottery sales.
- HB 903: Lottery Board; regulation of manufacturing, distributing, operating video games.
- HB 911: Virginia Lottery; repeals prohibition against internet lottery sales.
- HB 1125: Charitable Gaming Board; Texas Hold ’em poker events.
- HB 1343: Lottery Board; regulation of casino gaming.
- HB 1589: Virginia Lottery Board; regulation of electronic gaming devices.
- HB 1661: Lottery Board; regulation of casino gaming.
- HB 1686: Virginia Lottery Board; regulation of video game terminals.
- HB 1690: Charitable gaming; increase in certain maximum allowable prizes.
- SB 199: Charitable gaming; removes restrictions.
- SB 348: Virginia Lottery Board; regulation of electronic gaming devices.
- SB 384: Virginia Lottery; repeals prohibition against internet lottery sales.
- SB 533: Pari-mutuel wagering; distribution for problem gambling treatment.
- SB 609: Casino Gaming Establishment Location Commission; created.
- SB 743: Casino Gaming Establishment Location Commission; created.
- SB 752: Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act; illegal gambling device.
- SB 908: Illegal gambling; skill games, exception.
- SB 909: Lottery Board; regulation of manufacturing, distributing video games.
- SB 960: Lottery Board; regulation of manufacturing, distributing video games.
- SB 1063: Virginia Lottery Board; regulation of video game terminals.
- SB 1083: Lottery Board; regulation of casino gaming.
Source: Virginia Legislative System
Currently, each chamber has received two bills apiece that echo last year’s Senate bill 1126 to a large degree. SB 1126 sought to empower economically struggling cities Bristol, Danville and Portsmouth while Norfolk and Richmond were later included after tribal interests considered building land-based casinos within those cities’ limits, as well.
Economic analysis and taxes
A commission was formed to research the effects of such a change to the state’s laws on gambling. The Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that the proposed casino projects could sustain themselves while creating thousands of jobs and substantial tax revenues for the state. However, Virginia Lottery and Colonial Downs Racetrack gambling outlets would likely see a downturn in revenue as a result. That said, the Virginia Lottery Board would be the governing body in charge of oversight and regulation of the proposed casino establishments.
Sports betting bills are also on the list for consideration. At least three of them would provide the Virginia Lottery Board with regularity authority. The bills include a 10% tax on gambling revenues.
According to the study, “A fully developed sports wagering industry in Virginia could generate up to $55 million in annual gambling tax revenue for the state, depending on how it is structured, and online casino gambling could generate about $84 million each year. Unlike online casino gambling, which would most likely depend on the opening of casinos, sports wagering could be implemented without casinos and could be offered sooner.”
The barrier to entry is a steep one, with an application fee of $250,000 to accompany a criminal background check. Those selected to receive a permit would be bonded and the permit valid for three years. In the event a permit holder wishes to transfer ownership of the permit, the act is left to the state director and requires a one-time fee of $200,000.
iLottery ticket sales
Casino and sports betting bills would certainly bring more competition to the state with already-established lottery and horse track betting. However, Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission proposed that to mitigate the impact such casino legislation would have on lottery sales, the state may consider lottery ticket sales over the internet. House Bill 896 would repeal the prohibition on online ticket sales for the “convenience of purchasers of tickets or shares, the holders of winning tickets or shares and sports bettors.”
Senate Bill 384 brings forward similar sentiment in the conversation of legal sports betting and outlines provisions allowing for the sale of lottery tickets online.
Six other states have already implemented these “iLottery” activities with success. If approved, Virginia would join Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania in legal online lottery ticket sales.
“Of these states, in 2018, Michigan had the highest iLottery sales as a percentage of total lottery sales. Its $125 million in iLottery sales that year represented 3.5% of its total sales,” according to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission report. “If the Virginia Lottery implemented iLottery and experienced similar sales and proceeds rates to Michigan in the first year, the Virginia Lottery would have iLottery sales of around $78 million, which would translate into additional lottery proceeds of around $12 million.”