Virginia is becoming the next state to push bravely ahead with the legalization of its own online gambling industry. All that is needed is a signature by Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia will become the next legal state to offer various online gambling products, including poker.
Virginia – A Step from Full-Blown Online Poker Legalization
Virginia is now on its way of fully legalizing its online poker and gambling industry, all courtesy of a newly approved bill that the state’s governor, Ralph Northam, has until March 26 to sign into law.
Should he grant his support or the proposed legislation, Virginia will welcome a rapid expansion of online gambling and a solid potential economic windfall. However, there will be a lot of things to sort out at first.
After the state’s 140 lawmakers approved it, SB 1126 is now on the desk of Mr. Northam and he will have to decide what the future holds for it.
Expanding Online Casinos in Virginia, What’s SB 1126?
Virginia has been one of the most interesting states to follow out there. Local lawmakers have been voting their support for the online gambling industry under a handful of pre-determined provisos that differ slightly from what we have come to see elsewhere in the United States.
Under SB 1126, the Virginia Lottery Board will be authorized to issue licenses, with only one casino being allowed to operate per city in the state so long as it meets certain criteria, including:
- Applicant cities should have exempted 40% of their land area from local real property tax or 24% in the cases where a Virginia Indian Tribe is already operating a gambling business;
- Had an unemployment rate of at least 5% as of November 2019;
- A poverty rate of at least 20% in 2016
- Population decline by at least 4% between 1990 and 2016
While these conditions may seem a little over-restrictive, they are the only way Virginia can see land-based casino operators open doors and then start offering online gambling products, including traditional poker.
Apart from meeting the pre-determined criteria, though, casinos will also have to gain local approval. In places like Pennsylvania, locals have had a big say in whether casinos can open doors in their city or area. In Virginia, this will be left up to a city-wide referendum.
Legalizing the Industry in Full
Under SB 1126, Virginia will be legalizing a broad range of games, offering software makers an ample opportunity to market their products and established brands a chance to enter a promising new market. The Bill predicts a variety of games, including:
- Sports Betting
- Scratch cards
This is just the tip of the iceberg as virtually every casino (and not only) product will be introduced in the state. While Mr. Northam is mulling whether he should sign, the Virginia Lottery Board will come up with a framework to enforce the legislation and execute it.
The Lottery Board will have time until January 1, 2020 to come up with the basic framework and then there will be a six-month waiting period for regulatory measures to take effect. If everything goes according to plan, Virginia should have its industry officially licensed by June 30, 2020.
Licenses cannot be issued before July 1, 2020.