Online Poker Fans Hopeful After Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Signs Gaming Bill

March 27th, 2019 | by Jason Reynolds

Virginia could become the next US state to offer online poker and casino gaming following an important signature by Governor Ralph Northam.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam online gaming

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s signature has moved regulated online poker and gaming another step closer. (Image:

Reported by local media outlets on March 22, the signature authorizes the Joint Legislative and Review Commission to evaluated bill SB 1126.

Initially filed in December 2018, the document is an amended version of previous legislative efforts. Expanding a bill that previously focused on land-based gaming, SB 1126 now includes provisions for online gaming.

New Clause Makes Online Poker Possible

Prior to a serious of amendments, SB 1126 didn’t contain any direct references to the sector. However, thanks to new wording, online poker and gaming would be regulated under any new legislation.

“Casino gaming means baccarat, blackjack, twenty-one, poker, craps, dice, slot machines, sports betting, roulette wheels, Klondike tables, punchboards, faro layouts, keno layouts, numbers tickets, push cards, jar tickets, pull tabs, online gaming, and any other activity that is authorized by the Board as a wagering game or device under Chapter 41,” reads SB 1126.

After passing through the Virginia House (64-33) and Senate (30-10) in February, the bill landed on Northam’s desk. With plans for a $250 million casino and resort at the vacant Bristol Mall, the Governor has moved the process forward.

The Joint Legislative and Review Commission now has until December 1 to assess the legislation. Once the review is complete, the bill must be re-enacted by the General Assembly during its 2020 session.

From there, three cities have the chance to vote on the legislation. Should SB 1126 clear these hurdles and the Lottery Board establishes a clear set of regulations, licensing could start on June 30, 2020.

Hurdles to Clear but Regulation is Closer

At this stage, regulated online poker and gaming isn’t a certainty in Virginia. However, with politicians supporting SB 1126, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

If regulations are put into place, Virginia will join New Jersey, Delaware, Nevada and Pennsylvania in the online gaming sphere.

With a population of 8.5 million, the Old Dominion has a potential reach similar to New Jersey. For the state itself, this could lead to a thriving gaming economy.

However, considering Virginia’s population in the wider context, it may well enhance liquidity sharing deals already in place. Although the intrastate pact between New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada hasn’t produced stellar results as of yet, the potential is there.

By enacting its own set of regulations, Virginia could add a significant number of new players to the mix.

That in itself may not led multi-million-dollar prizepools. But it will keep things ticking over until states such as Washington regulate online poker and join the pact.


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