Virginia surging toward sports betting

D.C.'s Council just passed a sports betting bill, and now Virginia officials say they are ready to charge into the sports betting game.

The numbers show that the momentum is there for sports betting.

A new poll demonstrates that Virginians are ready to gamble on sports betting and the casino industry to generate new revenue in lieu of raising taxes.

The Wason Center at Newport University found 63 percent of registered voters say sports betting should be legalized in Virginia, and 77 percent say it will provide new revenues to the state. The polls director tells FOX 5 that the numbers reflect a resounding endorsement by voters.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting this year.

This week, the D.C. Council approved a sports betting law that puts it ahead of both Maryland and Virginia in the race to establish legal sports betting in the DMV.

Virginia's general assembly, as well as Maryland's, does not re-convene until the middle of next month.

Virginia officials tell FOX 5 that the Commonwealth could take action as soon as this month.

State Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) says he'll introduce legislation before the end of December, which the Virginia General Assembly will take up in January.

Petersen says sports gambling can not only generate state revenue, but boost local restaurants and bars as well.

"To me, sport is entertainment, and gambling should be a form of entertainment. If people are going to bet on games just like a bet on horses, I'd rather they come out go to a bar or go to a pub or go to a game but be in an establishment where they can eat, drink, socialize, and meet other people," Petersen said.

If Petersen's bill passes the Senate, it would go to the House in February. From there, the Governor could sign it as early as March, but it wouldn't become a law in Virginia until July 1 at the earliest.