Virginia Legislature Passes Casinos And Sports Betting Bills

The Virginia Legislature has passed legislation allowing casinos in five economically depressed cities and another bill allowing sports betting.

These two bills and some others passed during the 2020 legislative session are going to head to Gov. Ralph Northam for his signature. Both of them received bipartisan support and are expected to be signed into law, according to the Washington Examiner.

Danville, Norfolk, Richmond, Portsmouth, and Bristol are five cities which have the option to build a casino now. The issue must pass a city-wide referendum in November so the bill gives voters the final say. If it is passed by the electorate, ground could be broken on the properties and therefore, the Virginia Lottery would act as the regulatory body for casino gaming.

The legislation sets up a tiered tax plan that haves operators to be taxed anywhere from 18 to 30%. Casinos will be taxed 18% on the first $200 million of gross income, 23% from $200 to $400 million, and 30% on anything exceeding $400 million.

Although the bulk of that tax revenue will go to the state government, city governments will get a smaller piece because it budgets 6, 7, 8% of those same tiers to the city government housing the casino.

In terms of sports betting, Virginia followed Tennessee’s footsteps by passing a bill only legalizing online sports betting. In theory, city residents can vote against casino construction and there wouldn’t be anywhere to place a sports book. It would be much easier to pass additional legislation that would allow in-person betting than to follow the initial passage of the online bill.

The lottery will oversee the sports betting industry while operators will have any revenue taxed at 15%. Licenses will cost $250,000 for a three-year license and $200,000 for annual renewal.

It is prohibited to bet on Virginia college sports. A professional sports team relocating to Virginia will also be able to apply for a license.