Casinos and online gambling coming to Virginia

The Virginia Governor’s signature on a bill made land-based casinos and online gambling legal in the state this week.

But, state residents are still far from being able to walk into a poker room for a live game or play online poker.

The bill in question, SB 1126 passed votes in the Virginia Senate and House earlier this year. It received the signature of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam late last week, making it law.

What does the Virginia gambling bill say?

Here’s what the bill entails for casinos in Virginia. The bill legalizes the construction of casinos but there are a number of steps that need to be taken before you’ll see shovels in the ground.

First, the Virginia Joint Legislative and Review Commission must conduct a study on casino gaming regulations in other states. This study is due by December 1.

The study will then be reviewed by the Virginia Lottery Board, which has been given regulatory authority over casinos and gambling. The Board will have the first half of 2020 to develop casino regulations for Virginia. Once the regulations are in place the Virginia legislature will be able to re-enact the bill.

When will online poker be available in Virginia?

If that all goes smoothly, construction on casinos could begin in approved cities. These cities must also give their approval through their own vote. A list of cities where casinos are being considered already exists and includes Portsmouth, Danville and Bristol.

The Pamunkey Tribe has also considered casinos in Norfolk and Richmond.

When it comes to the legalization of online gambling it came down to two words in the bill. The bill defines casino gaming as ““baccarat, blackjack, twenty-one, poker, craps, dice, slot machines, sports betting, roulette wheels, Klondike tables, punchboards, faro layouts, keno layouts, numbers tickets, push cards, jar tickets, pull tabs, online gaming, and any other activity that is authorized by the Board as a wagering game or device under Chapter 41 (§ 58.1-4100 et seq.)” 

By including online gaming in their definition, Virginia has effectively legalized it.

However, there is no other mention of online gaming in the bill. There are no details regarding regulation, oversight, taxes, licenses, etc.

This leaves the next steps on online gambling in Virginia completely up in the air. They could go ahead and build the industry, or, and more likely, they could wait for the brick and mortar casino industry to find a steady footing before tackling online gambling next.