Bristol Casino

A screenshot from the Bristol Resort and Casino Website

Gov. Ralph Northam wants to set aside $175,000 for an independent study of gambling options in Virginia, a proposal that could put the brakes on bills to legalize casinos and sports betting.

Northam’s budget includes money for a study that will look at potential revenues from gambling, how the state could regulate it and how more gambling options could affect the Virginia Lottery.

The study — which would involve several state agencies and boards — would be due to the governor and General Assembly by Nov. 1.

That timeline doesn’t match up with the one sought by backers of a casino project proposed for Bristol, where city leaders see gambling as a way to revitalize an economically struggling area. Proponents of the Bristol casino are hoping to get legislation passed that will allow Bristol residents to vote on the idea in the November election.

Several bills have also been introduced to legalize and regulate sports betting.

Northam spokeswoman Ofirah Yheskel said Friday that the governor wants to gather feedback before deciding how Virginia should move forward.

She declined to say whether the study proposal means Northam will oppose bills to expand gambling before a study can be completed.

“We’re not weighing in on whether we support or oppose any gambling legislation at this time,” Yheskel said.

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