Casino-style gambling is coming to Virginia

Casino-style gambling is coming to Virginia

For a historically conservative state that has resisted the neon allure of casinos, Virginia seems headed for a gambling boom.And New Kent County, a rural but growing area east of Richmond that is home to almost 22,000 people, may be the epicenter.This week, a new owner bought the shuttered Colonial Downs horse-racing track in New Kent County, with the goal of reopening the facility in 2019.gambling software

Revolutionary Racing, the Chicago-based group that bought the track for more than $20 million, hasn’t revealed its plans for bringing live racing back to the state’s only track with pari-mutuel wagering. But the sale may not have happened if the General Assembly hadn’t voted this year to allow a major expansion of gambling at Colonial Downs and off-track betting sites throughout Virginia.

Revolutionary Racing’s plan is built around historical horse race wagering machines, terminals that look and feel like a slot machine but, instead of being powered by random luck, are connected to an archive of past horse races.The new type of electronic gambling, also known as instant racing, may simulate the feel of a casino, but the real thing could be coming just a few miles away.

The Pamunkey Indian Tribe, which won federal recognition as a sovereign entity in 2015 after a 33-year battle, has gone public with its plan to open a $700 million casino resort. The tribe said it’s looking for possible sites throughout eastern and central Virginia, but it has identified 600 acres in New Kent as an initial option.

The groups behind the two projects are watching each other closely because of the potential competition for gambling dollars. Revolutionary Racing is off to a head start after successfully persuading the Republican-led General Assembly to pass legislation allowing historical race wagering. The Pamunkey Tribe, which wants to open its casino within five years, may face a tougher battle if it has to seek the legislature’s blessing.House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, who opposed the bill tied to Colonial Downs, said he flatly opposes casinos.

“I do not believe opening the commonwealth to casino gambling is in the state’s long-term best interests,” Cox said in a statement. “I will continue to strongly oppose casino gambling and will encourage my colleagues to oppose it as well.”

Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, has said Virginia should be open to the idea of casinos, especially given the arrival of the MGM National Harbor casino just across the Potomac River in Maryland. A Northam spokesman said Friday that it’s too early to comment on any specific proposal, but the governor is “open to a conversation about keeping that revenue in the commonwealth.