Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia Signs Problem Gambling Bill into Law

Governor Glenn Youngkin has signed into law a bill seeking to create a problem gambling center to offer treatment programs and resources. Senator Bryce Reeves introduced the Senate Bill 836 last year in December. The State Senator’s office released a statement noting that Bill 836 was designed to provide players with gambling disorders with treatment resources.

The signed bill becomes effective on July 1, 2023. The law allows the formation of the Problem Gambling and Support Advisory Committee. This committee will work to stop gambling issues before they become unmanageable.

The Virginia gaming industry is rapidly expanding. As such, more people will be exposed to gambling. However, the Problem Gambling and Support Advisory Committee is tasked with ensuring that residents are aware of the possible risks that come with the expansion of the gaming industry.

Paul Krizek of Mount Vernon was determined to push SB 836 through the House of Delegates. The bill was supported unanimously by both of the State`s General Assembly before it was presented to Governor Glenn.

Reeves appreciated Youngkin`s move. He referenced his fatherhood and how it pained him to see gambling affect young people. Virginia has consistently opposed the expansion of gambling. However, the General Assembly caved in in 2020 to allow some cities to offer gaming to spur economic growth that was already deteriorating. Former Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the 2020 gaming bill into law.

Gaming Expansion Comes with More Gambling Problems

Virginia has had a lot of gaming expansion since 2018. That year, lawmakers legalized pari-mutuel betting on historical horse racing machines.

The 2018 bill was pushed by Revolutionary Racing, a company based in Chicago. The firm wanted to revive Colonial Downs Racetrack under the condition that the state would allow it to operate historical horse racing terminals.

The bill passed and allowed additional terminals at several sites outside the off-track. In 2020, lawmakers voted to allow five cities to expand gaming. The cities had to take the issue to their residents in a referendum.

Four of the five cities voted yes, including Danville, Bristol, Norfolk, and Portsmouth. Some have finished building new casinos, while others are almost done. Richmond voted against the expansion of gaming. The city hopes to give the referendum another shot.

Another form of a gambling expansion in Virginia is sports betting. Residents can wager on sports online or at retail sportsbooks, thanks to the 2020 gaming bill.

The expansion of gaming and ease of access to gaming products has led to the rise of gambling problems among young ones. According to a survey conducted in 2021 by Virginia`s Department of Health, a quarter of high school students participated in various forms of gambling in the past year.

How to Seek Help

Players are advised to seek help if they have a gambling problem. There is a hotline, 1-888-532-3500, that players can use to reach the Virginia Problem Gambling.

According to the council that manages the hotline, there have been more calls than ever before. This line has been active since the expansion of casinos, historical horse racing terminals, and sports betting.

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