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Virginia just got approval from the state’s governor, Ralph Northam, to push ahead with introducing a working legal framework for online gambling and poker.

Virginia Paves a Future for Online Poker in the State

After last week’s success of SB 1126, only one signature was needed for the draft to become a fully-endorsed piece of legislation, backed by both main legislative bodies in the state and now – the governor.

Gov. Ralph Northam had until March 27 to either ink his approval for SB 1126 or give reasons for the bill’s dismissal. Mr. Northam chose the former, giving online poker and online gambling the initial jolt to get regulators, businesses and lawmakers working on framework that will dictate the rhythm of these industries.

The efforts began early in 2019 and they have culminated with M. Northam’s signature. However, there’s a whole lot more that needs doing.

SB 1126 has been quite successful. The bill managed to win the vote both in the Senate and the House with 30-10 and 64-33 respectively.

The bill had a somewhat rocky start with legislators quibbling over the nature of gambling and whether it would benefit the state. After some debate, lawmakers all began falling into line and vowing their support. The bill defines online gambling as:

Casino gaming” means baccarat, blackjack, twenty-one, poker, craps, dice, slot machines, sports betting, roulette wheels, Klondike tables, punchboards, faro layouts, keno layouts, numbers tickets, push cards, jar tickets, pull tabs, online gaming, and any other activity that is authorized by the Board as a wagering game or device under Chapter 41 (§ 58.1-4100 et seq.).

They didn’t draw the line at land-based operations either, choosing to go ahead with a number of innovative solutions, including online poker and gambling.

The Next Move for Online Poker in Virginia

Despite the monumental success so far, there will be a number of procedures that will need to be observed by regulatory bodies and individual businesses before the first casinos can open doors.

Virginia will first request a report on the state of casino gambling laws in other states. The report will be put together by ta Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission and presented for discussion before December 1.

In Y1, 2020, the Lottery Board, which will be regulating the industry, will have to enact the regulations outlined in the final bill and only then will the industry launch in full. The roll-out is slated for Y2, 2020.

There are several important conditions that business will need to meet when they apply for a license, and far more importantly – for a location where they can operate the business. SB 1126 has many provisions that relate to establishing a casino property.

They have to do with the poverty, unemployment, and population rates of the desired locations, and any brand that wants to open a casino will have to undergo a city-wide referendum, too.

Virginia will have some serious issues to address in the long-term as well, with the now oncoming legal storm involving the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Wire Act. CalvinAyre just reported that the DOJ is unlikely to backtrack on its Opinion, meaning that Virginia, similarly to Pennsylvania, will have a lot on its plate to consider.