Public Comments for 01/19/2021 General Laws - Subcommittee #3
HB1812 - Casino gaming; technical amendments.
HB1843 - Charitable gaming; increase in certain maximum allowable prize amounts.
I understand you will be reviewing HB 2312 today, although I don't see it listed above? I oppose HB2312 for a number of legitimate, research-based reasons. First and foremost, now is not the time to legalize marijuana due to the pandemic, recession, and rise in other drug abuse/deaths! To legalize a schedule 1, addictive drug sends the wrong message to youth and the entire community. The message it sends is that marijuana is safe, low risk, condoned, and normalized. However, the opposite is true; marijuana use exacerbates the effects of Covid 19. The income from taxes is grossly underestimated, as per states that have legalized marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not adequately address racial injustices and economic disparities. The start year of 2023 is unrealistic in terms of the need to build an infrastructure that will mitigate risk and respond to marijuana use/abuse issues. Once Virginia is ready to legalize marijuana, the three work groups should be clustered as follows: health and safety, K-16, and adult (since older adults are the fastest growing user group of marijuana nationally). I can provide references and more information if requested. Thank you. Dr. Mary Crozier firstname.lastname@example.org
HB1847 - Sports betting; clarifies certain procedures, determining if an event is considered a youth sport.
HB1943 - Charitable Gaming Board; regulations, electronic pull tabs.
The Virginia Equine Alliance is monitoring this and all other gaming related legislation. We ask that during this short session the General Assembly consider each bill’s impact on the Commonwealth's overall gaming universe.
We appreciate Delegate Willett's legislation, and Grover Gaming fully supports this effort. House Bill 1943 makes a minor adjustment in the statute that allows electronic pull tab machine manufacturers to split game elements between multiple screens. It does not change any of the restrictions placed upon the gaming rules or what graphics can appear on those screens.
HB1944 - Casino gaming; requirements for issuance of operator's license, human trafficking training.
Dear Members of the General Laws/ABC-Gaming Subcommittee: I am writing to express my support for HB1944 and respectfully ask that you vote in favor of this simple but powerful bill. The goal of this bill is to ensure that the economic benefits that casinos can bring to communities are not overshadowed by the risks and costs associated with gambling criminal activity that can be associated with casinos. Let me share just two studies with you: • A 2010 study published in the UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal found in a survey of over 6,000 people that casino patrons were 17 percent more likely than the average survey respondent to have paid for sex in the past year and problem gamblers were 260 percent more likely to do so. • This finding is corroborated by a large field study of prostituted youth in Atlantic City, conducted by a research team from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The direct connection between child sex trafficking and casinos was addressed incidentally in their 2016 report: Interviewed youth in the sex trade "reported that they either obtained customers ‘on the street’ (61 percent); through referrals (22 percent); at strip clubs, other clubs or bars, in casinos, or at private parties (29 percent); or via the internet (13 percent).” As the Executive Director of a regional anti-human trafficking nonprofit in Hampton Roads, I can tell you that human trafficking is already a very real issue in our community, based on the growing number of clients we are serving. Despite the pandemic, in 2020 VBJI served 160 adult victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, representing a 22% increase over 2019. And this doesn't include the number of minor trafficking victims, served by other organizations in our community. Virginia currently ranks 16th in the nation in the most reported cases annually (Polaris, 2019). And casinos, like other legitimate businesses, can be used by traffickers for nefarious purposes. VBJI provides regular industry-specific training for organizations that may come into contact with potential trafficking victims, including local airports and hospitals, among others. We would welcome the opportunity to partner with the new casinos to help develop and/or provide training, so that their employees will be equipped and empowered to help prevent human trafficking in our region. HB1944 would require casinos to have a policy for anti-human trafficking training for its employees as a condition of licensure. As such, this bill would have no fiscal impact on the Commonwealth and would position casinos as responsible gaming institutions committed to delivering on the economic upsides of the industry while minimizing the associated criminal activity that has been documented in other states. I encourage you to recommend swift passage of this bill and appreciate your consideration of this testimony.
Human trafficking is the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Although Virginia has passed some legislation in recent years to combat human trafficking, more work remains to be done; the State Crime Commission reports that “commercial sex trafficking is a serious problem in Virginia.” The legalization of casinos in some Virginia cities, although important for economic development and opportunity, adds another layer to the challenge of ending human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking. According to Annie Sovcik, director of Busing on the Lookout, “traffickers using casinos as a meeting place for buyers… particularly when the casino is combined with a hotel.” But casinos can also provide an opportunity for victims of trafficking to seek help or escape their traffickers, if casino staff are properly trained. These trainings have already proven effective in the airline industry; since 2016, flight attendants have been trained to recognize and report signs of human trafficking (including clothing, behavior, and relationship with traveling companions). Mandating such trainings for public-facing casino workers is an important step in combatting human trafficking in Virginia, and in making sure that the new casinos support the economies of their communities without becoming human trafficking hotspots. For this reason, we urge all committee members to support HB 1944, which mandates anti-human-trafficking training for public-facing casino workers. -Students for Equity and Reform in Virginia (SERV) Tessa Danehy, President Hayden Ratliff, Dhruv Rungta, Kristin O’Donoghue, Alexandra Hartman, Patrick Cloud, Madeleine Green, Cole Davidson, Austin McNichols, Priya Viswanathan, Ciara Tisdale-Vakos, Theresa Ho, Neha Krishnakumar, Hayes Miller, Gabby Jefferson, Sona Kalatardi, Jack Melman-Rogers, Stella Banino