Virginia Senate Okays Bill to Allow Slots-Like Horse Racing Terminals

The U.S. economy can always use any help it can get, especially when it comes to small communities that are suffering economically. Facing a drop in gambling revenue, states add new games in an attempt to keep their cut of the profits rolling in. Gambling expansion may produce certain pitfalls such as gambling addictions, but cash-strapped states have started to see gambling as a potential source of revenue.
Gambling does not have to take place in a casino at all. In fact, the gambling industry is a multi-channel business, which offers unlimited options. Gambling revenues are usually used to fund socially-beneficial programs. Some states divert a slice of the gambling revenue to help boost horse racing. This Wednesday brought us the intriguing news that a bill to allow slots-like betting machines to the former Colonial Downs racetrack in New Kent County sailed through Virginia Senate.
The legislation, which is also known as House Bill 1609, passed by a margin of 31-9 yesterday and now it is winding its way to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk, waiting for his approval. Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier commented that the bill aims at saving the horse racing industry, which is currently on its last legs. In fact, the horse industry in the U.S. is generally declining, which results in widening the revenue gap.
The bill was included inside the budget that Gov. Terry McAuliffe submitted before he stepped down from his office. However, the House Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights stated that the officials should pay more attention to the bill and discuss it outside the budget. Earlier this month, the majority of the House members voted in favor of the bill, sending it to the Senate for approval.
Other States to Consider Legalization of Slot Machine-Like Betting Terminals
The “historical horse racing” terminals are slot machine-like betting terminals that allow players to place bets on replays of horse races that have already been run. For quite some time, horse racing proponents have pushed hard, without success, to allow historical race terminals at Colonial Downs (a defunct racetrack located 30 miles outside of Richmond). Yesterday, the legislation that seeks to establish “historical horse racing” as a form of horse racing took yet another step forward.
Earlier this year, Casino Reports found out that Idaho received a proposal for a ballot initiative to legalize “historical horse racing”. The Idaho Attorney General’s Office claimed that the legalization of these machines may draw a legal challenge, questioning the constitutionality of the proposal. The Attorney General stated that historical horse racing is legal across the state if it does not include slot machines or any casino gambling electronic equipment. The official pointed out that the “instant” horse racing machines resemble casino gambling electronic equipment, which may open Pandora’s Box.
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