Focusing on the Future of Gaming

Focusing on the Future of Gaming

This week at the first meeting of the year for the Joint Subcommittee to study the feasibility of establishing the Virginia Gaming Commission, I was re-appointed to serve as the subcommittee's Vice Chair. During the meeting, I gave the following statement to highlight the important work our subcommittee has ahead of us.

"First, I want to thank the General Assembly for passing our joint resolutions to extend this subcommittee for an additional two years to complete our work. And thank you to the members today for once again entrusting me to serve as Vice Chair.

As the Chair of the ABC & Gaming subcommittee and also the Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation and Public Safety, much of my work as Delegate serving in the legislature has focused on responsible and ethical gaming expansion in the Commonwealth and our duty as legislators to support Virginians with gambling addictions.

In just these past few years, the Commonwealth has introduced and expanded sports betting, online Lottery, casinos, historic horse racing machines, live horse races, charitable gaming — and, for a time, "skilled" game or "gray" machines. 

Our subcommittee recognizes that gaming expansion is a double-edged sword. It promises new jobs, tourism, tax revenue, and charity funds to help millions of Virginians. But this comes with the common pitfall of enabling and fueling gambling addiction, an impulse control disorder affecting roughly 4-6 million Americans of all ages, races, ethnicities, and genders. The impacts on those Americans and their families are severe.

We have not shied away from this issue. Senator Reeves and I have spearheaded efforts to address the potential harms of further legalization of gambling, including creating the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Advisory Committee and securing funds for the Commonwealth's Problem Gambling Fund. Our subcommittee's commitment to protecting vulnerable Virginians is unwavering as we continue our due diligence. That's why we can't overstate the critical nature of our work.

It's evident that a single regulatory framework for gaming in the Commonwealth would best ensure consistent and comprehensive oversight, eliminating regulation discrepancies and gaps across the different forms of gaming. A unified approach would promote the implementation of robust education and support services, enable effective monitoring and transparency, and provide better protection for Virginia consumers.

I also believe that a holistic approach to gaming oversight and regulation would best serve our Commonwealth's problem gambling efforts. So, with the guidance of our subcommittee's independent consultant, I look forward to learning best practices from gaming states across the country and further developing the strategy that will best serve Virginia."