Similar bills that would legalize casino gambling in five Virginia cities, if the cities can secure enough votes to pass a referendum, have passed the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate.
Under these bills, it would be legal for Richmond, Danville, Norfolk, Bristol and Portsmouth to approve the construction of a casino after a referendum in the November general election. The Virginia Lottery Board would regulate casino gaming in the state.
The tax structure under the legislation is slightly different. The House version, House Bill 4, would establish a tax ranging between 15 percent and 28 percent of the adjusted gross receipts of licensee based on the amount of capital investment the license holder makes at the casino. The Senate version, Senate Bill 36, would create a tax ranging between 27 and 40 percent of the adjusted gross receipts of licensee based on the license holder’s annual adjusted gross receipts.
Under the tax brackets in both bills, license holders who make more money will be taxed at a higher rate.
Both versions will ban skill machines, which resemble slot machines and require a player to match rows of like objects. This provision was criticized by Queen of Virginia Skill & Entertainment, which manufactures such machines.
"Make no mistake about it, a ban on skill games will result in significant job loss in the restaurant, bar and convenience store industry and puts countless small businesses in jeopardy of closing,” the company said in a statement. “The skill game industry impacts thousands of Virginia small businesses, and a ban will hurt many in the Commonwealth. In contrast, the Commonwealth is advancing plans to legalize casino gaming backed by big out-of-state corporations. Legislators are currently putting the interests of Las Vegas casino owners over Virginia small business owners.”
Each version of the bill now will head over to the other chamber, where adjustments to the bills can be made in committees to create a compromise bill.