Casino Referendums Pass In Virginia
The long-awaited referendum vote regarding live casinos in Virginia was held on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, the referendum passed in all four Virginia localities. What was surprising was the margin that each bill passed.
As such, casino gambling is now coming to the Old Dominion. Furthermore, this vote now opens the door for legal online gambling in Virginia.
Casino Gambling Overwhelmingly Approved in Virginia
Four Virginia localities held referendums on Tuesday to vote on whether to allow live casino gambling in the state. Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth all held their votes and the support for casino gambling was overwhelming as all four localities passed the measure easily. The gap was so wide that analysts were calling the votes shortly after polls closed on Tuesday.
Bristol was the state that started the move toward legal casino gambling in the state and they passed their referendum by the widest margin. Citizens voted 71% to 29% in favor of a casino. Now, Hard Rock Casino Resort will over the old Bristol Mall property to build a $350 million casino.
Another casino vote that we predicted would be a slam dunk was Norfolk. They voted in favor of live casinos 65% to 35%. Caesars Entertainment will now build in Norfolk and will award $20 million to the city of Danville by the end of the week.
Portsmouth was the only area we thought might not pass a referendum, but we were not even close. The vote there passed 67% to 33%. Rivers Casino will build in Portsmouth.
Finally, Norfolk has easily passed its referendum. While about 7% of the votes remain to be counted, the current vote stands at 65% to 35% in favor of a casino. The Pamunkey Indian tribe will build a casino in Norfolk in partnership with billionaire Jon Yarbrough.
Virginia has been one of the few US states that didn’t have some form of casino gambling within its borders. That will now change with the first casino expected to open around 2023 to 2024.
What About Richmond?
If you have been following Virginia’s path toward live casino gambling, you already know that Richmond was the fifth area approved to hold a casino referendum vote. The city opted to delay its vote until 2021. Some speculate that the reason is that the city is still looking for a casino partner.
The Pamunkey tribe is expressing interest in building in Richmond. If this happens, it will give them two casinos in the state. The city is likely to explore their options to see where they can get the best deal. With the other four localities having passed a referendum, we expect to hear more about Richmond’s potential partnership. This will likely happen in early 2021.
Vote Opens Door For Online Gambling
An angle that hasn’t been mentioned regarding this vote is the potential for online gambling in the Old Dominion. If you look at the original bill, online gambling is listed as a form of gambling that will be legal for approved casinos.
What this means is that any casino that opens in the state will be permitted to offer online gambling. Casinos will be able to open online versions of their casino, offering slot games, blackjack, video poker, and more. Also, there is potential for online poker as poker is listed as a legal activity.
The Virginia Lottery will oversee the regulation of live casinos in the state and will also oversee online gambling. Back when the bill was first introduced, it was hinted that online gambling could launch before live gambling, but that is still speculation at this point.
Regardless, this is a historic vote that this writer never thought would happen in his lifetime. As a lifelong Virginia resident, this state has been staunchly opposed to casino gambling for many years. Attitudes have softened in the last decade, allowing for this vote. In a few years, I will now have a casino within a couple of hour’s drive instead of having to drive to West Virginia, North Carolina, or Maryland to gamble.