Casino gambling legislation advances in House of Delegates

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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7)-- Legislation that could lead to casinos in Bristol and Danville continues to move forward in the General Assembly.

The House of Delegates advanced the legislation on a voice vote Tuesday afternoon. A final vote is expected Tuesday.

Delegate Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach) highlighted the benefits of the legislation.

"It's got five locations, which are Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond," Knight said. "These are economically depressed areas that could use the jobs in the state of Virginia."

The prospect of casino gambling in locations across the state has drawn protests from religious groups and other opponents, but no one spoke against the legislation on the floor of the House.

"I believe that this measure very much accomplishes the overall objective of bringing a lot of people to the table and looking at it from a global perspective," said Delegate Joe Lindsey (D-Norfolk). "And for that reason, I support the measure."

The Virginia Lottery would regulate the casinos. The legislation lays out the tax structure.

There are provisions that would benefit Colonial Downs, encourage minority hiring, require a living wage and fund programs for problem gamblers.

And local residents would have a say.

"What's most important is that in this bill there is a referendum," said Delegate Don Scott (D-Portsmouth). "Every community will have the final say on what is in their community, and for that reason I would ask that we engross the bill and move it forward."

A similar bill is moving forward in the state Senate, so we should see a final vote in both chambers before Tuesday's deadline for each house to complete work on its own legislation.

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