Virginia Online Poker Legislation Introduced by Senator Louise Lucas

Online poker legislation has been introduced by a Virginia senator in the hopes of declaring the game one of skill.

Across the United States, individual states are focusing on legislation and regulations in regards to a variety of gambling topics. In the past, poker was the popular discussion topic but over the past year, casino and daily fantasy sports, even sports betting have taken the top spot. However, it seems one senator in Virginia is going back to basics with the introduction of legislation that would declare the game of poker one of skill and create regulation in regards to poker tournaments.

The New Bill

Senator Louise Lucas introduced a new gambling bill in Virginia known as S 1400. The new bill would make changes to the state code in relation to gambling in several areas including further defining what is considered illegal gambling as well as charitable gaming for the state. Overall, Lucas would like to see poker defined as a game of skill and regulation created that will cover such options as poker tournaments.

In the bill, the definition of illegal gambling will exempt poker. A key passage of the bill states that poker games shall be deemed games of skill and nothing in the subdivision will be construed to make the game considered illegal gambling. By ruling poker a game of skill, Lucas is taking a move from many playbooks as other states have made this move to be able to offer the game. Many courts have upheld decisions based on the game being considered one of skill.

Regulation of Poker Tournaments

On top of naming poker a legal game in the state, the bill also has language that will regulate poker tournaments. The bill defines poker tournaments and authorizes such activity to take place but only if conducted in strict compliance within the provisions of the measure. Poker tournaments of the state would be controlled by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The Charitable Gaming Board would have power as well, being used to create regulations as well as conditions where the tournaments are regulated and conducted in the right manner.

Past History of Gambling in Virginia

The state of Virginia is not known for their gambling offerings. The state does provide a lottery for residents and in the past offered horse racing but that stopped after the Colonial Downs shut down. The state is far behind their neighbors, especially Maryland, when it comes to offering gambling options such as casino gaming.

It seems that efforts by Lucas may be due to an issue taking place in Portsmouth which is in the area that Lucas serves. A resident was offering poker gaming via a poker halls that was shut down back in 2010 by an attorney due to being considered illegal gambling. This case was not taken up by the state Supreme Court which left the question of whether or not the game of poker was one of skill for the state up in the air.

Lucas has tried in the past to see gambling come to fruition in the state but has been unsuccessful. It seems this effort is a small step in the right direction but might be a hard road to travel. Last year, Lucas stated that with ten different bills over a four year time frame introduced by her, none have passed a committee.

Lucas has continued to try and advance the state in this manner but to no avail. It will be interesting to see if 2017 will be her year and a bill will finally be approved to offer such gaming in the state.