Virginia Pari-Mutuel Bill Clears Senate Committee

Broad legislation that removes impediments to the pari-mutuel industry cleared a Senate committee by a 7-1 vote Jan. 23. Introduced by Sen. Kenneth Stolle, the bill delegates regulatory control of racing dates, provisional licensing, and account wagering to the Virginia Racing Commission.

The bill also adds towns to the localities allowed to conduct referenda on satellite wagering facilities and racetracks. The bill was amended to include account wagering, which is unregulated in Virginia.

"If we pass this bill, we will take a big step to enhance the industry," Sen. Bill Bolling said.

Newly elected Gov. Mark Warner is expected to sign the bill should the House and Senate approve it. In earlier comments, he said: "I see racing as an opportunity to expand our economy and keep the revenues it generates in our commonwealth. It does not make good economic sense to export an asset. If we obstruct the business of racing, it will go elsewhere."

The bill is headed to the Senate floor, where it is could be heard as early as Jan. 28. It has the support of the racing commission and a task force that helped put it together.