Virginia Senate Passes Poker Bill, Which Continues To Squeak By In Legislature

January 27, 2017
Virginia Senate Passes Poker Bill, Which Continues To Squeak By In Legislature

A Virginia bill that would designate poker as a game of skill and allow for tournaments in the state passed the full Senate by the narrowest of margins.

What happened in Virginia regarding poker

A poker bill introduced just a few weeks ago has picked up noticeable momentum, albeit without huge majorities.

The bill passed a Senate committee by a margin of 8-7. Then, on Friday the full Senate approved the legislation. The vote in the Senate was actually 19-19, with the president of the Senate casting the deciding vote in favor of the bill.

The poker bill moves on to the House of Delagates, where its prospects remain unknown, as this is the pretty much the most serious Virginia has been about a gambling expansion recently.

What the Virginia poker bill doesn’t do, and what it does

The poker bill would not allow for online poker in the state as exists in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

What it does do would be to authorize poker tournaments in the state by saying it is a game of skill. At core, the bill would create card rooms in the state and allow licensed operators to offer tournaments. Legislative efforts to authorize full casinos in the state have largely gained no traction.

The bill would put the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in charge of the regulation of poker tournaments in the state. That same department is in charge of regulating daily fantasy sports in Virginia.

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Poker bill heads to the House

The Virginia effort has so far held on by the skin of its teeth, with two votes in a committee hearing and the full Senate chamber the difference between passage and defeat.

As such, the legislation faces uncertain — or even dim — prospects in the Virginia House, which is generally more conservative. The Senate bill was introduced by a Democrat, Sen. Louise Lucas; Republicans only hold a slim majority in that chamber. in the House, Republicans outnumber Democrats two to one.

Regardless of what happens next, this is some of the most positive recent momentum for any US jurisdiction attempting to classify poker as a game of skill.

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