HomeGambling RoundupVirginia Casino Debate Is Now All About Taxes

Virginia Casino Debate Is Now All About Taxes

The Virginia Senate and House both passed bills allowing casinos in cities including Portsmouth, Richmond, Norfolk and Bristol. But the Senate recently voted 40-0 to reject a House substitute bill proposing a 15 percent to 28 percent tax rate, versus the Senate’s rate of 27 percent to 40 percent. The session ends March 7.

First the Virginia Senate passed Senate Bill 36, allowing casinos in Richmond, Danville, Norfolk, Bristol and Portsmouth if approved in voter referendums. The bill moved to the House, which passed a substitute version, House Bill 4. But the Senate recently rejected the House’s substitute bill in a 40-0 vote.

At issue is the tax rate. The Senate bill’s tax rate would be 27-40 percent, depending on a casino’s annual adjusted gross tax receipts. The House version sets the tax rate at 15-28 percent, based on the license holder’s capital investment. The House bill also would charge $5 million for a casino license versus $15 million in the Senate bill.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate both requested and appointed members to a conference committee to work out differences in the two versions. Observers said the committee is expected to reach an agreement before the session ends March 7.

In anticipation of legalized casinos, Rush Street Gaming has presented a casino proposal in Portsmouth, and Hard Rock International and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians want to develop a Bristol property. The Pamunkey Tribe has proposed casinos in Richmond and Norfolk.

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