RICHMOND, Va. — A bill requiring a comprehensive study on the impact of casino gambling in Virginia passed in the Senate on Monday.
The bill amended previous legislation that would’ve allowed a local referendum in Bristol, Virginia, to continue while a study was being conducted.
The results of a study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission will now first need to be presented to the General Assembly in the 2020 session.
Lawmakers will then decide whether or not to give voters in five designated Virginia localities, including Portsmouth, the chance to decide their own fate on casino gambling.
Sen. Bill Carrico, who co-sponsored the legislation, hoped senators would consider allowing referendums to continue concurrently with the study.
Lawmakers and developers have been acting with urgency on a proposal to convert the vacant Bristol Mall into a resort and casino, especially as neighboring states consider casino proposals of their own.
Sen. Thomas K. Norment explained the reason for the amendment. “It just struck me as being rather unusual that we were taking an informative study that was going to have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on informing the voters or informing us as a legislative body what the potential implications of gaming would be in Virginia.”
The bill will now move on to the House of Delegates.