Legislation authorizing casino gaming was introduced in Virginia ahead of the 2014 legislative session.  SB 19 was introduced on December 6th.  

The bill does not limit the number of casino establishments may be authorized leaving such determinations to the five-person Casino Gaming Commission appointed by the Governor and confirmed by both houses.  The Commission has the typical duties of overseeing gaming operations in the state including subpoena power to compel the attendant of witnesses “whenever in the judgment of the Commission it is necessary to do so for the effectual discharge of its duties.”

Some of the highlights of the legislation include:

  • Tax Rate:  The bill calls for a modest 20% tax rate on the adjusted gross receipts of the gaming operators.  The bill also calls for a $2 admission fee for entry into a gaming establishment to be paid by the operators, although the language on this provision is unclear. 
  • Tax Breakdown:  90% for tolls and 10 % to the local municipality where each casino is located.  More specifically, 90% of the taxes collected from gaming operations will go to the Toll Mitigation Fund used “solely for the purposes of mitigation the tolls established to support construction and maintenance of (i) the Dominion Boulevard Bridge and Roadway Improvement Project and (ii) the Downtown Tunnel/Midtown Tunnel/Martin Luther King Free Extension Project.”  Of the 90% collected to the Toll Mitigation Fund, 8.33% of that is returned to the Casino Gaming Commission Operations Fund for the operation and administration costs of the Commission.
  • Transferability: The bill states that no license issued thereunder is transferable and anyone looking to take an interest in a gaming operator licensee or a supplier permittee must apply to the Commission prior to taking such interest.  The Commission will make a determination on the application within 60 days.
  • Multiple licenses: The bill provides that “no operator shall be granted more than one license, and no principal of a licensee shall at the same time be a principal of any other licensee.”
  • Locality Support/Opposition:  The bill provides a City or County the opportunity to submit its support or opposition to the Commission when an application has been submitted for the a gaming establishment in that locality.
  • Supplier permits: The bill call for licensing suppliers gaming equipment, devices, or supplies.  The bill, however, does not define these terms.  Further, the bill makes no mention of third-party vendors or software providers.  If not dealing directly with the licensed gaming operator, are approvals required?
  • Internet Gaming: The bill rules out the possibility of allowing operators to offer internet gaming by including language that says “[w]agers may be received only from a person present at the licensed gaming establishment.”
  • Other:  In addition, the bill amends Virginia’s liquor tax code to add a $2 per gaming position annual state license fee, as well as a $1 per gaming position local license tax fee for gaming establishments with a mixed beverage casino license.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology where it is expected to sit.  Check back here for any updates on this legislation.