Report: Casino Gambling Could Take $9 Million From Purses In Virginia

A study by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that casino gambling could be beneficial to the commonwealth, but would come with potential risks — including a significant blow to its recently-reborn Thoroughbred industry. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Virginia would gain $262 million in annual tax revenue from five potential casinos. The Pamunkey Tribe is the only tribe permitted to open a casino under federal, rather than state law.

Representatives from Colonial Downs, which recently completed a successful meeting and is still putting the finishing touches on historical horse racing (HHR) parlors around the state, told Virginia legislators that casino gambling without any competition between casino operators would ultimately lead to job loss and tax revenue loss for counties. The track estimated casinos would reduce live racing purses by $9 million a year, and result in a 45 percent loss in revenue to the recently-opened HHR parlors.

Virginia has historically been extremely socially conservative, and in fact many in the state’s racing industry were surprised when HHR was made legal there last year, triggering the purchase and re-opening of Colonial Downs after it sat dormant for six years. November’s elections left Virginia with Democratic majorities in both the Senate and House of Delegates.

Virginia’s legislature will reconvene in January and could take up the question of whether to allow casino gambling and how to structure its regulation. The Richmond Times-Dispatch noted that some legislators seemed more cautious about the concept as a result of the study.

Read more at the Richmond Times-Dispatch

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