Gaming study on tap, after Governor signs casino legislation

Published: Mar. 25, 2019 at 7:20 PM EDT
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As Colonial Downs prepares to re-open its Vinton gaming center, legislation that could bring full-service casinos to Southwest and Southside Virginia has received the Governor's approval.

It won't happen overnight. .

The legislation that Governor Northam signed calls for a state study this year, and another vote by the General Assembly next year.

And before Bristol, Danville or three other Virginia cities can welcome casinos, voters would have to approve in local referendums.

Grayson County Senator Bill Carrico was one of the bill's sponsors. He says he is thankful the requirement for local referendums remains in the version the governor approved.

"I don't think people in Richmond should be deciding what's good for people in Bristol or Danville or Richmond, Portsmouth or Norfolk," Carrico said in a telephone interview. "I think it's the people who live there, who are affected by it the most."

The casino legislation faced opposition in the General Assembly.

Senator Bill Stanley expressed his reservations on the floor of the State Senate.

If you've been to Vegas, and you've been about five blocks over," Stanley said, "there's no glimmer, glamour, so no tier one casinos."

And opponents will have more opportunities to prevent full-service casinos from ever opening here.

But Carrico says he believes the process is now moving forward in cautious and prudent manner.

"Whatever happens if that is approved by the people," Carrico said, "it will be done with the strictest of regulatory measures."

The issue will remain in the spotlight.

The state study on legalized gaming is due in early December, so the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission has little time to waste.

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