Three Virginia Cities Launch Coordinated Casino Legalization Push

by Administrator

Three Virginia cities are striving to bring casino gambling to the state in a bid to secure revenue amid financial struggles

A third city is on track to join a coordinated effort to persuade the government of Virginia to legalize casino gambling after Bristol and Portsmouth each passed earlier this year a resolution on the matter.

Members of the Danville City Council are gearing up to pass a similar resolution over the next few days, it has emerged.

Casino gambling is currently illegal in Virginia. What is more, the Legislature has quenched any attempt to bring casinos or any other form of gambling to the state for decades. However, lawmakers showed earlier this year signs that their stance might be softening by allowing historical horse race betting.

Bristol developers have pitched a $150-million plan for a casino resort at the vacated Bristol Mall, promising new jobs and revenue for the region and the state. The Bristol City Council passed a resolution supporting the casino scheme in September. City Council members said back then that the materialization of the project could provide the city and the region with a much-needed economic boost.

Commenting on the matter, City Manager Randy Eads has said that Bristol needs the opportunity to improve its financial situation sooner rather than later as its debt load “is getting ready to increase dramatically over the next several years” and the revenue generated from the casino resort “will help alleviate financial issues” related to an increase in the city’s debt load.

Casino Bill in the Works

support from Bristol, two Virginia lawmakers have begun work on a bill that would allow city residents to vote on the potential construction of a casino in a referendum. Sen. Bill Carrico and Del. Israel O’Quinn are planning to introduce the piece during the 2019 legislative session of the General Assembly.

According to Mr. Eads, there will be little opposition to the casino effort if and after it passes all the hurdles in the Legislature. However, that might not be the case exactly as a Bristol family organization has already launched an effort to prevent the opening of a casino resort in the city, arguing that an establishment of this kind would only bring “addiction, poverty, higher crime, prostitution, sex trafficking, drugs, diminished poverty values, etc.

As mentioned earlier, Portsmouth City Council members, too, voiced their support for casino expansion within the state’s borders. In October, they passed a resolution similar to the one approved in Bristol.

Danville is now looking to come on board. Similarly to Bristol and Portsmouth, the city has been struggling with financial issues for years now. The loss of key industries has also resulted in a significant drop of population, an issue Bristol and Portsmouth have, too, faced. Officials from all three cities have pointed out that a casino in each of them could improve their economic situation swiftly and significantly.

With the upcoming introduction of the casino bill as well as of three sports betting bills2019 could be a landmark year for Virginia, during which the state could establish a regulated gambling industry.