A recent Review Commission and Joint Legislative Audit study in Virginia suggested that casino gambling would be profitable for the state. It said that the state could earn $262 million in annual gaming tax if it approves five potential casinos.
The state can win big with gambling
According to the report, the state can license five casinos, one of them in Richmond, which could generate a third of the gambling revenue. It could add anywhere between 3,000 to 10,000 new jobs in the state. The actual tax revenue collected will depend on the rate of taxation. However, the report suggests that casinos in Northern Virginia will be more profitable and generate an additional $155 million in annual taxes. They may also help add extra 4,400 new jobs.
Not everyone was impressed by the study’s findings. New Kent County owner Colonial Downs, which also operators four gaming emporiums in the state, issued warnings on the casinos as they could lose business. Spokesman Mark Hubbard said that opening five new casinos in Virginia would lead to a loss of tax revenue for the state and different localities. It will also lead to a loss of jobs.
Indian tribes oppose the proposition
The Pamunkey Indians also spoke against the recommendations. Their spokesman Jay Smith said, “The Pamunkey Tribe has been marginalized for centuries and deserves some protection as they seek to gain financial independence and improve the lives of their members.” Pamunkey is the only Indian tribe in the state and rules related to its sovereignty allow it to operate a casino under federal laws. Smith said that the recommendations do not protect the tribe sufficiently.
The study doesn’t paint an all-rosy image for gambling. It suggests that the state could face issues related to problem gambling and may hurt the horse-racing industry as well. The study also talks about unregulated video machines, online gaming, and sports betting.
Currently, the democratic-controlled legislature wants to propose sweeping changes to the gaming law. According to James City Republican and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, the legislature should “move incrementally” towards resolving complex issues like gambling. The state also needs to keep Virginia Lottery’s perspective into account. Last fiscal, the Lottery received $600 million that it directed towards K-12 public education. However, the presence of thousands of unlicensed, unregulated and untaxed gambling options like video machines is already eating into its profits.