New report is latest step towards legalizing casinos in Virginia

Casino findings announced by commission

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A new report out is the latest step in a process towards possibly legalizing casinos in the Commonwealth.

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission released its findings on a study meant to help lawmakers make that decision - based on the possibility of five projected casinos around the state.

Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond would see brand new casinos under Senate Bill 1126, which would allow casino gaming in Virginia, regulated by the Lottery Board.

According to JLARC’s study, the proposed casinos would boost state tax revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars, along with adding thousands of jobs to the workforce.

On the other hand, gaming options could create more problem gamblers in the state - along with reducing revenue from other gaming outlets such as “grey machines”, which are the chance-based games found in convenience stores and bars.

The report also finds that casinos would only bring about a positive, yet relatively modest, economic boost to communities where they are located.

“Realistic net annual state revenue from expanded gaming could be approximately $370 million, but that amount can vary greatly depending on implementation decisions," said Joe McMahon, the team leader of the study.

Some General Assembly members brought up concerns in Monday’s meeting, however:

“It is not a simplistic issue; ‘Okay, the general assembly’s going to authorize casino gaming, and go to it'," said Senator Tommy Norment. "And I don’t know if we can just 'go to it’ with a free-market competitive situation.”

While the General Assembly is set to discuss the topic in the next legislative session, the projected casinos aren’t slated to open until 2024.

JLARC’s full report can be here.

Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.