Three cities in Virginia have will be joining forces in a bid to bring casino gambling to the state, the main reason being that they hope the industry will assist in securing revenue amid the state’s current financial struggles. Two of the cities – Portsmouth and Bristol – have already made it clear that they are all in with the plans to persuade the government of Virginia to legalize casino gambling and Danville, the third city, is on track to join them. Members of Danville’s City Council are currently gearing to pass similar resolutions as the other two cities within the next few days.
As it stands, casino gambling is still an illegal activity in the state of Virginia and to make the situation even worse than it already is, the state’s Legislature has consistently thrown any attempts to introduce online gambling in the state under the bus. Even though this has gone on for decades, in 2018, lawmakers have high hopes that the stance of the state may finally be softening following the legalization of the historical horse race betting.
Two Virginia lawmakers, with support from Bristol, have begun work on a bill that is expected to allow the residents of the city to vote on the potential construction of a casino in a referendum – this bill will be introduced during the 2019 legislative session of Virginia’s General Assembly. According to Randy Eads, the Bristol City Manager, the city is in dire need of an opportunity to improve its financial situation especially because its debt load “is getting ready to increase dramatically over the next several years”. He believes that the gambling revenue will be very useful in alleviating these financial issues not just for Bristol but for other cities in the state as well.
The Bristol City Manager is also confident that the casino effort will face very little opposition after it passed all of the hurdles in the state’s legislature. However, this claim might be too optimistic especially considering the fact that a Bristol family organization has already launched an effort that opposes the establishment of a casino resort in the city. The family argues that any gambling activity in the state would only lead to “addiction, poverty, higher crime, prostitution, sex trafficking, drugs, diminished poverty values, etc.”
While the other cities have been making tremendous strides towards the push for the legalization of sports betting and online gambling, Bristol has been more proactive in pursuing the agenda. Developers in the city have even gone as far as pitching a $150-million plan for a casino resort in the city which they believe will come with new jobs and revenue for the region and the state. Members of the city council have also expressed confidence that, if the project materializes, it could result in a much-needed economic boost in the region.