Updated on 09/16/2011 6:57AM

Virginia wagering bill defeated


The Virginia House of Delegates rejected by one vote Wednesday a bill that would have permitted the Virginia Racing Commission to regulate telephone and Internet account wagering.

The measure, which was voted down 47-46, would have licensed out-of-state account wagering companies that accept bets from Virginia residents on horse races.

Robin Traywick Williams, the commission's chairman, said an estimated $15 million is bet annually by Virginians with companies that are not regulated by the commission.

Had the bill been passed, the commission would have required account wagering companies to pay state taxes and contribute a portion of bets made by state residents to purses at Colonial Downs.

Colonial Downs, a Thoroughbred and harness track, located in New Kent County, opened five years ago and operates four offtrack betting facilities.

"My disappointment is that this bill would have positioned Virginia to be one of the most progressive racing states," Williams said. "We need to educate our [delegates] better about the industry."

Lawmakers against the measure argued the passage of the bill would open the door to rampant gambling in the state.

The failed bill would also have permitted the expansion of OTB's if another Class A license, such as the one given to Colonial Downs, was awarded in Virginia.