Lawmakers in Virginia are gearing up for the 2019 legislative season, which could be focused extensively on gambling in the state. The Old Dominion is in the midst of several betting and wagering plans which could materialize with a nod from the authorities. The good news is that the General Assembly passed legislation for “Returning Horse Racing to the Commonwealth of Virginia” which could pave the way for further regulations in the market.
Gambling has become the hottest topic in Richmond ahead of the 2019 legislative session. The horse racing legislation tried to help the industry survive as the previous attempts to revive off-track betting went bust in the state. The new law will allow electronic gambling terminals in Virginia, known as historical racing machines.
These machines allow the users to bet on horse races that have already taken place. The Virginia Racing Commission could help 3,000 terminals in Colonial Downs racetrack revive themselves with the new regulation. An off-track betting site in Vinton could also find advantage in this game.
Historical horse racing takes the ‘skill’ of studying racehorses, tracks, etc. from gambling and lets gamblers focus solely on the results. With these machines, most information about the horses, their record, etc. is hidden so that bettors cannot readily identify the races. They get to see the odds against each horse, bet on it and then either watch the race or skip to the results.
But Richmond isn’t expected to stop here. Its next stop is sports gambling. Two different proposals currently exist for the new sports gambling regulations. Though both intend to legalize betting on professional sports, their approaches are different. Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City, is sponsoring a proposal that creates a state body to regulate sports gambling that will use its proceeds to lower tuition fee in Virginia community colleges.
Del. Mark Sickles, D-Fairfax County, on the other hand, wants the Virginia lottery to take over the authority of sports gambling which could raise $41 million every year. The resources could be used to fund “major research projects” in the universities of Virginia.
The Virginia lottery has already used its proceeds to fund K-12 education in the state since 2000. They have raised $9 billion for the public schools, $600 million of which were raised in fiscal 2018 alone. However, Virginia must ensure that in order to create better public schooling they use the new revenues on top of the old revenues to help the sector instead of giving money from one hand and taking from another.