Virginia will soon be home to at least four casinos. After the residents of Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth voted to allow casino locations to be built inside their city limits, preparations for construction began in earnest.
These referenda became possible after the Virginia Assembly and Gov. Ralph Northam came to an agreement in April 2020. The new law provided for the possibility of casinos in Virginia cities that met certain criteria.
Along with the four cities, Richmond may also have a casino in its future. The capital city chose to delay its referendum until 2021, so it will be a year behind the others. However, if the results of the first four votes are any indication, Richmond will also soon be a casino gambling city.
Casino operators such as Caesars Entertaiment and Hard Rock have entered into agreements to build branded casino locations in some of these cities. The Pamunkey Indian Tribe will also work to build its own venue.
In essence, the only thing left to do is build the properties and turn on the slot machines. Virginia should see its first casinos toward the end of 2022 or sometime in 2023.
In the meantime, Virginians can avail themselves of the newly-launched sports betting. Virginia became an active sports betting state in January 2021.
UPDATED: June 9, 2021
Richmond has chosen its preferred casino operator. Officials selected the proposal from Urban One and Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, which is the owner of Virginia’s Colonial Downs and Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums. The $600 million project beat out a competing proposal from The Cordish Cos. and four other hopefuls.
If voters then green-light the project with November’s Election Day referendum, Richmond will join four other VA cities that overwhelmingly voted in favor of casino projects in 2020.
|VA Casino Host City||Preferred Casino Partner||Potential Sports Betting Platform|
|Bristol||Hard Rock International||Hard Rock Sportsbook|
|Danville||Caesars Entertainment||Caesars Sportsbook|
|Richmond||Urban One/Peninsula Pacific Entertainment||TBD|
|Portsmouth||Rush Street Gaming||BetRivers Sportsbook|
|Norfolk||Pamunkey Indian Tribe||TBD|
Recently passed legislation allows for casino gambling in five cities:
Those cities were chosen based on criteria set forth by the legislature, including:
Voters in all of the cities except Richmond formally approved the projects during the 2020 election cycle. They simply needed half of the votes, but each casino referendum passed by a convincing 2-1 margin.
Richmond voters will decide the fate of a casino in the Virginia capital city during 2021 Election Day.
|June 1||Preliminary review of casino partners begins.|
|July 15||Lottery Board meeting|
|Aug. 14||Deadline to order referendum with host cities.|
|Nov. 3||General Election|
|Nov. 16||Secretary of State certifies election results.|
|Late December||Host cities certified and notified the Lottery of its preferred casino partner.|
|Feb. 3||Casino regulations finalized and applications for casino gaming licenses become available.|
Currently, the five host cities have received approval of their casino partners from the VA Lottery, the regulatory agency for gambling in the state.
In addition, four of the cities passed measures on the November 2020 that allowed voters to decide if they would allow the construction inside their towns. Each referendum passed overwhelmingly, and plans are moving forward.
Richmond residents will have to one more year to voice their opinion on the matter. The state capital elected to delay its referendum until 2021, so developments there will be delayed for a year.
At present, regulators are deeply engaged in writing the regulations to govern casino gambling in the state. Those regulations were due in April 2021, but they came early on Feb. 3. Now, the Lottery has up to one year after receiving an application to issue its decision.
Virginia, and the rest of the country, for that matter, is experiencing some financial challenges as its economy emerges from the pandemic-forced shutdowns.
Needless to say, revenue for the state is an important topic. That’s why casino gambling’s impending arrival in 2022 or 2023 cannot come too quickly.
When VA casino gambling finally does launch, however, it is estimated to provide $262 million in tax revenue.
Casino revenues will be taxed on adjusted gross revenue according to the following schedule:
The big beneficiary of casino tax revenue outside of the host cities is the public fund supporting school infrastructure projects including school construction and upgrades. It receives the remaining funds after the cities are paid, minus:
Some form of gambling in Virginia has been legal since 1973 when charitable gambling became legal.
Today, charitable gaming includes several forms of bingo and poker. Its 1.125% tax generates more than $265 million per year for the state.
In 1988, the Virginia Lottery began operating in the state. Today, more than 100 games are offered by the VA Lottery, including the multi-state Powerball and Mega Millions draw games.
The state has more than 5,000 retail locations, and all profits (roughly 30% of ticket sales) are designated for education. In 2020, the Lottery generated $595 million for schools.
One year after the introduction of the Virginia Lottery, horse racing in Virginia became legal.
The market was averaging about $100 million per year in revenue from 2000 until 2014, when Colonial Downs was closed due to a conflict between the owners and breeders.
Colonial Downs reopened in 2019, but the live racing schedule was ultimately canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, officials from the Vinton racetrack are planning a full 2021 season with live spectators. Shenandoah Downs in Woodstock is also planning the same for its fall season of harness racing.
In May 2018, the federal ban on sports betting was lifted by the US Supreme Court. It started the more than two-year journey toward legalizing sports betting and casino gambling in Virginia.
So far, 2021 is already a banner year for gambling in Old Dominion. The launch of sports betting in January is nothing short of a boon for the state.
Casinos are expected to arrive sometime in 2022 or 2023. So, Virginia is well on its way to becoming a full-service gambling state.
Customers can expect casino games similar to those found in any casino, including poker, blackjack, slot machines, and craps.
Ultimately, it is the Lottery Board that will authorize all casino gaming. Additionally, the law allows for on-premise mobile casino gambling.
The current law only allows for casino gambling in the five designated host cities. Any further expansion would require additional legislation.
Yes. The law establishes the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund which will provide resources to help someone with a gambling problem. Call the Virginia Problem Gambling Helpline at (888) 532-3500.
The Virginia Lottery is the regulatory agency that oversees Virginia casinos. It establishes the regulations for safe casino play and ensures players’ funds are protected.
Additionally, the Lottery Board is responsible for: