The governor of Virginia has reviewed a legislation that aims to re-open a horse track, and said that the state should be open to casino-style gambling.
US.- Ralph Northam, Governor of Virginia, said that he doesn’t have major doubts when it comes to a proposal that aims to re-open the Colonial Downs track. He also added that Virginia should be open-minded to the possibility of featuring casino-style gambling.
“If this is an opening to more casino gambling in Virginia, that’s something we’re going to have to discuss with legislators and communities, et cetera. But the way I see this moving forward is to reopen that track. And I think that’s a good thing for Virginia,” Northam said earlier this month.
The legislation includes a system that uses slots-style machines to allow players to gamble faster by betting on horse races that have already happened. The bill passed the General Assembly last month. The potential buyer of the Colonial Downs track in New Kent County said that the machines would generate up to US$161 million per year, and revenue would support the local horse-racing industry as well as help fill government tax coffers. The Virginia Racing Commission estimates that each machine could generate US$150 per day.
The governor has until April 9th to act on the bill and said that he will review the proposal and suggest changes if he considers it necessary. Nevertheless, he said that nothing so far has been a deal-breaker. If he decides to sign the bill, the local Racing Commission would have six months to adopt regulations for the new terminals. The proposal calls for 1.25 per cent of the revenue to be set aside for tax purposes, with 0.75 per cent going to the state and 0.5 per cent going to New Kent.
“There’s a tremendous amount of money in Virginia that’s going across state lines, whether it be in West Virginia or Maryland or Delaware. And I think we’ve got to be open-minded. Certainly, we don’t want to do something that’s regressive to people or is hurtful to people. But if there are individuals who want to do that and are going to other states, I think we should be open-minded in Virginia,” he added.
On the other hand, anti-gambling groups said that gambling would hurt families. “We’re incredibly disappointed that the General Assembly would pass a massive gambling expansion that is the equivalent of slots under the guise of saving the horse-racing industry,” said Victoria Cobb, president of the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia. “This definitely raises the concern that we have now opened the door to casinos.”