Published On: Tue, May 8th, 2018

Virginia Closer to Legalizing Gambling

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In an unprecedented turn of events, doors in favor of gambling are opening up in Virginia, a state that has traditionally stood against the practice.

A firm based in Chicago has announced that it would be buying and reopening the long-dormant Colonial Downs horse racing track, which is the only facility in Virginia to host thoroughbred events. The announcement was made at the end of April, this year. The deal is estimated to be worth around $20 million and was able to go through successfully due to the earlier legalization of a particular kind of horseracing game.

Last week, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe also made an announcement that it was planning to purchase a piece of land very close to the highway near Colonial Downs. The site will likely host a $700 million resort and casino. Though the project may not be initialized soon, the chances of it actually happening are very high. This is due to the fact that the tribe has the right to construct the casino after winning federal support in 2016.

The Tides of Change

Virginia has always been part of the only 10 states to prohibit any form of gambling. However, it’s neighbors North Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland have always held the exact opposite view. Conservative legislature even prevented the setting up of a riverboat gambling facility in the early 90s. In the 2000s, the state put a ban on internet gambling cafes.

As for the casino bill, it had been left hanging in the Senate committee for almost half a decade.

Criticism Abounds

However, support for gambling has been growing steadily. The support is said to have been fueled by events such as the setting up of the MGM Grand Casino in neighboring Maryland. Around 40% of the casino’s business is believed to come from Virginia.

Maryland managed to generate over $40 million towards its state education trust fund this year, thanks to its 6 casinos.

Gov. Ralph Northam has stated that Virginia may have to do something similar. However, there is plenty of opposition to the idea. For instance, there is House Speaker M. Kirkland Cox, who stands firmly against gambling. He voted against the horse racing bill and is even more opposed to the plans of a casino.

He issued a statement recently, mentioning that a casino would not be in the best interest of the state. However, there seems to be a difference of opinion within the Republican party. In fact, the Colonial Downs legislation was brought forward by a Republican from Fauquier County.

 

 

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