A conceptual rendering of a possible Pamunkey Tribe gaming resort in Norfolk, Virginia. Signs of the city's Naval shipyard can be seen in the background. Image: Pamunkey Tribe

Virginia gaming study bill becomes law as new betting machines arrive

A bill that paves the way for the Pamunkey Tribe to open a casino has become law in Virginia.

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed Senate Bill 1126 on Friday. The new law authorizes a study of gaming that's due December 1, The Bristol Herald-Courier reported.

The law also authorizes a process for host communities -- including those where the tribe has expressed interest in opening a casino -- to schedule a referendum on gaming. But the Virginia Legislature would have to take action again before a referendum can take place.

Assuming all those steps are completed, the casino would be operated under state, rather than federal law. That means the tribe would not have to go through the land-into-trust process, which could take several years, if not longer, to complete.

The tribe, whose reservation is located east of Richmond, the state capital, has been looking at building a casino in Norfolk. Another site closer to Richmond also has been mentioned.

The tribe gained federal recognition by going through the acknowledgment process at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The tribe's status became final in 2016.

Six other tribes in Virginia gained recognition through an act of Congress in 2018. The law bars them from following the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act even though the state allows several forms of gaming, including bets on historical horse races.

A non-Indian racetrack outside of Richmond will be offering 600 such electronic betting machines next month, WRIC reported. The machines were authorized by state law last year, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Elsewhere, the state of Idaho at one point allowed non-Indian racetracks to offer the same types of machines. But lawmakers ended up banning them after tribes complained that the devices looked too much like slot machines.

Read More on the Story
Northam signs casino bill into law (The Bristol Herald-Courier March 22, 2019)
How Virginians will be able to gamble on old horse races 'without having to do any work at all' (The Richmond Times-Dispatch March 25, 2019)
Colonial Downs betting on casino-style games to bring in new crowds (WRIC March 25, 2019)
Northam signs bill that could lead to casino in Danville (WSET March 25, 2019)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Pamunkey Tribe stands to gain with historic action on gaming in Virginia (February 25, 2019)
Pamunkey Tribe clears first hurdle with bill to authorize casino under state law (January 21, 2019)
Pamunkey Tribe willing to operate gaming facility under state law (January 16, 2018)
'Like dropping a bomb': Nansemond Indian Nation bashes another tribe's casino plan (January 14, 2019)
Pamunkey Tribe finds welcoming host community for potential casino (December 19, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe sees support for gaming development in Virginia (December 6, 2018)
Editorial: Don't let prejudice stand in the way of tribe (November 29, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe still working on casino plan after winning recognition (November 28, 2018)
'Economic self-sufficiency': Pamunkey Tribe pursues casino in Virginia (June 14, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe not invited to local meeting about casino plan (May 23, 2018)
Former chief of Pamunkey Tribe slams gaming plan as 'recipe for disaster' (May 11, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe pushes for casino as Virginia opens door to new machines (May 7, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe partners with billionaire developer in push for casino (April 25, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe connected to acquisition of land by gaming company (April 23, 2018)
Pamunkey Tribe announces plans for $700 million gaming facility (March 16, 2018)