Legislation seeking to legalize and regulate casinos in certain parts of the Commonwealth took a big step forward on January 21, as the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee voted 9-3-1 to report SB 1126 (Lucas) and rerefer the bill to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.
SB 1126 was one of three bills to hit the docket on Monday. Ultimately, the Committee opted to incorporate the other two bills – SB 1503 (Carrico) and SB 1706 (Lewis) – into SB 1126 (Lucas) and consider one larger casino bill that contemplates possible casino projects in Bristol, Danville, and Portsmouth, as well as two casino projects that the Pamunkey Indian Tribe is considering for Norfolk and Richmond.
As drafted, the bill would allow each of the five localities to hold a referendum on a casino in the Fall of 2019 and would not allow the Commonwealth to grant a casino license until July 1, 2020. This timeline was established to provide a year for the State to undertake a comprehensive study, a chief concern of many legislators as well as Governor Ralph Northam. The proposed study would be completed before the beginning of the 2020 session to afford the General Assembly adequate time to consider the findings and propose any necessary changes to the law.
Next up for the casino bill is a stop in the powerful Senate Finance Committee, a formidable committee known for its intense scrutiny and analysis. SB 1126 (Lucas) has not yet been scheduled to be heard, but it will likely be considered early next week.
VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.