Virginia Lawmakers Approve Slot Machine Expansion
Real money gambling legislation is all over the news these days as states continue to grapple with better ways to address shortfalls in the government budget other than raising taxes on its residents and guests. Increased gambling options through land-based and online casinos, as well as state lottery systems, have proved to be an effective way to generate the necessary funds.
According to a report by Max Smith on Wtop.com, Virginia is the latest state to turn to real money gambling expansion in the form of wider access to slot machines. People love to try their luck winning money playing slot machines. Following a gambling expansion bill that went into effect on July 1, Virginia residents and guests to this state will eventually have that chance at Colonial Downs when it reopens its doors sometime in 2019. The bill also allows the expansion of “historical horse racing’ slots into off-track betting sites.
How Do Virginia Lawmakers Approve Slot Machine Expansion?
The slot machines will be controlled by Colonial Downs at both the live racing track and the off-track betting spots. Colonial Downs was built in 1997 as the first and only live horse racing facility in the state, but it shuttered its doors five years ago due to financial strains. Reopening the track with new buyers was somewhat contingent on getting this law passed. The added revenue for these “historical horse racing slots” will provide the necessary funds to supplement the racing revenue, while also funding improvements to the track and to the new owner’s bottom line.
Virginia has set the tax rate at 1.25 percent on all gambling revenue and the proceeds with be distributed to state and local governments. The significance of using “historical horse racing” slot machine ties into the concept of utilizing old horse races to determine the winning numbers. This involves the use of a video of a recorded race that is then shown after a player hits the start button.
Current state law made provisions for 10 off-track facilities in various geographic locations. Right now there are only four in operation mainly at sports bars outside of Northern Virginia. Several other businesses in that same geographical region have expressed some serious interest in bringing more off-track betting along with slot machines to the area. Off-track betting could then be expanded to live races conducted outside the state.
Will Virginia Casinos Make More Money Due To The Slot Machine Expansion?
Governor Ralph Northam signed House Bill 1609 into law earlier in the spring with an effective date of July 1. The next steps according to this report are the approval of regulations by the Virginia Racing Commission to turn these plans into reality.
The governor was quoted as saying, “We are in the process right now of looking at the regulations. And, you know, there is a lot of different folks that are interested in racing and gaming, and we want to be fair to everybody, so we’re going through the process right now and vetting things. Hopefully, at the end of the day, we’ll come up with regulations that are fair and that will be in the best interests of Virginia.” It was mentioned that Northam oversees this commission.
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