Danville city council members feeling positive after addressing state lawmakers about casinos

Four council members, police chief went to Richmond Friday

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

DANVILLE, Va. - Speaking before the Senate General Laws Committee in Richmond Friday, Danville Vice Mayor Lee Vogler, joined by city Councilman Dr. Gary Miller, James Buckner, Madison Whittle and Danville Police Chief Scott Booth, made the city’s case for a casino.

“All that we are asking is that they allow the people of Danville to decide what’s best for Danville,” Vogler said in an interview Tuesday.

Admittedly, prior to his speech on Friday, he was a little worried that state lawmakers may not want to deal with casino gambling right now.

“I think after the presentation that we made, as well as the conversations that were held afterward, I’m feeling a lot better," Vogler said.

Over the weekend, the multiple proposed casino bills were consolidated into one bill.

The new bill would still allow voters in Danville, Bristol and Portsmouth to vote if they want a casino or not, but it would also allow lawmakers time to conduct and review a casino impact study before deciding if casino licenses will be issued.

On Monday, that bill passed the General Laws Committee and was sent to the Senate Finance Committee.

The committee’s next meeting is Wednesday, but there’s no telling if they’ll vote on it then or in a future meeting.

“I think it would be sooner rather than later because this is kind of one of the big issues this session and I think they kind of want to have some clarity about where it’s heading,” Vogler said.

Councilman Gary Miller, like Vogler, came away from Friday’s visit to the capitol with a more positive outlook on the casino gambling issue than he had before.

“I think we presented our case well. All three communities did,” Miller said.

Representatives from Bristol and Danville also spoke to lawmakers Friday.

Miller said there will likely be more visits, especially if and when the bill gets to the House.

“We have a good coalition with the other communities and we’re available to go up almost at a moment’s notice,” said Miller.

If the General Assembly passes the bill, residents in Danville will get to vote in November if they want a casino or not.

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