Virginia Governor Signs Gambling Treatment Bill into Law

Virginia’s Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has signed Senate Bill 836, which seeks to create a Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Advisory Committee. This legislation, introduced in December by state Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), aims to provide resources and treatments to those suffering from gambling disorders. Del. Paul Krizek (D-Mount Vernon) was responsible for pushing the bill through the House of Delegates, where it received unanimous support.

In light of the expanding gaming industry in the state, the committee will also work to inform the public of the potential risks associated with gambling. Governor Youngkin’s signing of the bill comes after Virginia lawmakers’ 2020 decision to allow certain cities to consider casino projects. Currently, four casinos are in the works or have already opened in Virginia, and in 2018, the General Assembly legalized parimutuel wagering on historical horse racing (HHR) machines.

The Virginia Problem Gambling Hotline (1-888-532-3500) has reported an influx of calls since the introduction of casinos, HHR machines and sports betting. This was further evidenced in the 2021 Virginia Youth Study, which found that 24% of high school students and 63% of 18-25-year-olds reported gambling in some form over the past 12 months.

The Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Advisory Committee will commence operations on July 1, 2023, providing authorities with enough time to establish the necessary programs and resources to help those affected by problem gambling. Senator Reeves expressed his appreciation for Governor Youngkin’s support of the initiative, noting his concern for those afflicted by gambling and its consequences.