Tucked away in Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed budget amendments is a plan to study how gambling expansion could play out in Virginia.
As drafted, the study wouldn’t be completed until November, well after this year’s General Assembly session concludes and lawmakers will have voted on a slew of proposals to bring casinos and sports betting to the state.
But Northam’s staff says that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s made up his mind on whether he will or won’t sign off on any legislation that makes it out of the General Assembly.
“The governor has taken no position on any gaming legislation at this time,” said spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky in an email Thursday.
For instance, legislation introduced to legalize sports betting directs the Virginia Lottery to develop a regulatory framework. Presumably, the results of a study completed in November could inform such an approach.
Here’s the full text of the amendment:
$175,000 the second year from the general fund shall be used for the Secretary of Finance to contract with a third-party, independent reviewer, to study the Commonwealth’s gaming governance structure and current and potential revenues to the Commonwealth. The study shall include a review of the gaming governance structures of other states and the impact of gaming expansions on state lotteries. The study shall be conducted in consultation with the Virginia Lottery, the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Racing Commission, the Charitable Gaming Board, and any other state agency as requested by the Secretary of Finance.
The Secretary of Finance shall submit the findings and recommendations from the study to the Governor and the Chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations Committees no later than November 1, 2019.
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