The Virginia Senate this week passed a new law bringing additional problem gambling protections to the state.
Signed into law by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Senate Bill 836 goes into effect on July 1, 2023. The legislation is an important step toward providing ample responsible gambling resources in Virginia.
What does the new Virginia problem gambling law mean?
Senate Bill 836 directs the commissioner of behavioral health and developmental services with establishing and maintaining a Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Advisory Committee. The goal is to enable collaboration among gaming operators and prevention and treatment providers in order to reduce the negative effects of problem gambling.
State Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) told the Culpeper Star Exponent that the law’s overall goal is to prevent gambling addiction and provide resources to people who struggle with it.
The legislation was sparked by several recent findings. For example, the Virginia Problem Gambling Hotline saw a 143% increase in calls in the past three years, according to Virginia Mercury.
A 2021 VA Youth Survey also spurred some of the legislative efforts to ramp up problem gambling protections. The survey revealed 21% of high school students said they had gambled or placed a bet in the past year. Among young adults age 18-25, 65% said they had gambled in the past 30 days (at the time they took the survey).
“I greatly appreciate Governor Youngkin’s support in this endeavor,” Reeves said, “as a father, it pains me to see how our youth have been affected by gambling and all the ills that come with it.”
Why pass Senate Bill 836 now?
This new law comes at a time when Virginia gambling is going through a period of rapid expansion. Last year, the Bristol Casino opened in the site of an old mall. Soon, it will be home to the Hard Rock Casino. That’s one of five properties approved to be developed and opened in Virginia. Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond are the other cities on the docket.
Danville appears next on the slate. Caesars expects to open in July, though it’s currently struggling to hire for all the necessary positions required to run its casino. Meanwhile, some Richmond folks think the city should give nearby Petersburg a chance at a casino following recent struggles to get the Richmond project off the ground.
And that’s just a taste of the retail offerings in Virginia. The state offers a whopping 15 legal and regulated sports betting apps, including big names like DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, and Caesars.
Plus, DK Horse just launched in Virginia, bringing a new online horse race betting platform to players in the state.
In short, Virginia has welcomed with open arms many new forms of gambling. While there are plenty of positives — namely tax revenue — problem gambling is still a concern. Establishing a committee to address these concerns seems like a natural next step in a state that shows no signs of slowing its gambling industry’s growth.
21+ and present in VA. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER