Gaming Operators Find Virginia Casinos Attractive Even With COVID-19 Pandemic

Gaming Operators Find Virginia Casinos Attractive Even With COVID-19 Pandemic

Gaming operators are focusing on new states legalizing or expanding their gambling offerings. One of their most highly anticipated gaming markets in Virginia, which may get a step closer to getting five new casinos.

Governor’s approval crucial

The casinos are earmarked for five venues- Richmond, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Bristol. The Democratic governor Ralph Northam can sign the General Assembly approved legislation that could bring these casinos a step closer to reality. Caesars Entertainment and Hard Rock Casino are two of the major operators eyeing a presence in the state. State tribes are also looking to win either one of the five gaming permits up for grabs.

Gaming Operators Find Virginia Casinos Attractive Even With COVID-19 Pandemic

The interest in the Virginia gambling opportunity arises because of the large population. The state is the 12th most populous in the US and is home to 8.5 million people. Its median household income is $72,577, which is the 11th largest in the country. However, the market could face problems because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has shuttered most of the nation’s casinos and caused thousands of job losses.

Should the industry panic?

According to Democratic Sen. Louise Lucas, there is no need for the gambling industry to panic in these times. The bill passed by the General Assembly, currently awaiting the Governor’s nod, was primarily sponsored by Lucas who said that time is on their side. The original version of the bill had been signed into law in March 2019 by Gov. Northam. However, the bill required a comprehensive study on the economic benefits that casino gambling could bring to the state. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission was tasked with the job of conducting this review.

The audit revealed that allowing five casinos in the state could have “a positive, but modest, economic impact on local economies.” It expects the five casinos to record $970 million in annual GGR which could bring up to $260 million in tax benefits to the state. The General Assembly then repassed the 2020 version of bill SB1126. However, just the governor’s sign will not open the industry. The five cities listed in the bill will hold a local referendum in November and ask voter’s opinions of allowing a casino.

Note that Jim McGlothlin, businessman and Hard Rock are planning a $400 million project to renew a vacant Bristol Mall as a casino. On the other band, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians from North Carolina are planning a casino at The Pinnacle, a shopping mall located on the Virginia-Tennessee border.

About sherlock

Sherlock Gomes loves to write and express his views on anything related to Gaming, Gambling, & Casino. He has been covering Gaming for more than two years now.