Virginia is getting closer to launching its online and mobile sports betting market after approving vendors and testing labs.
And while the Virginia Lottery is working on the launch, new legislation introduced in the legislature could expand the number of online-only licenses available in Virginia and make it legal to bet on Olympic events. The office of state Del. Mark Sickles, who helped push the original bill through to law, said his new bill, HB 1847, called for technical edits to the current law.
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HB 1847 was advanced out of a gaming subcommittee to the General Laws committee this week.
If approved, the new bill would not take effect until July 1, according to the state lottery. The fiscal year in Virginia runs July 1 to June 30.
The next approvals from the lottery should be for the sports betting operators. The lottery has been reviewing 25 applications for mobile sports betting permits that were submitted between Oct. 15-31.
”In the next 2-3 weeks, we expect to begin issuing the first sports betting licenses according to the existing law and regulations,” Jennifer Mullen, the Virginia Lottery’s director of public affairs and community relations, said in an email late last week.
Kevin Hall, executive director of the Virginia Lottery told Virginia Beach TV station WVEC on Jan. 5 that he expects the market to be live by the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
“If a licensee is ready to go, some of them could be up and running by the Super Bowl. That’s a good opportunity, Hall said, according to the WVEC report. “It’s the biggest thing on the sports calendar all year, so we might be able to launch with a bang,”
The lottery has posted approvals for Gaming Laboratories International LLC and Bulletproof Solutions Inc. for testing and for 27 approved vendors, including the parent company of Gambling.com, according to the Virginia Lottery website. The vendors were approved on Jan. 13. By law, the Virginia Lottery must issue at least four and no more than 12 permits to qualified applicants.
Virginia Expected to be Strong Market
Expected to be a strong sports betting market, state officials have estimated that Virginia bettors will wager as much as $400 million in 2021, and increasing amounts in subsequent years.
The state is expected to give licenses to five casinos to be built in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond (if it gets approved by voters), and to a professional sports team if it relocates to the state (the NFL Washington club is looking for a new home).
The Virginia state legislature approved sports betting legislation in April and it was legal effective July 1. The Virginia Lottery Commission then began developing and approving regulations on an accelerated schedule.
More on the Virginia Law
The law seems to be fair to all stakeholders. It taxes sports betting revenue at 15% and sets licensing fees for operators at $250,000 for an initial three-year permit and $200,000 for three-year renewals. Betting on college sports is legal, but does not allow for betting on games involving Virginia colleges and does not allow prop bets on college sports.
Virginia also included a Sports Bettors’ Bill of Rights that identifies five areas where sports gamblers receive some protection in dealing with gambling operators and even themselves.
BetMGM, DraftKings, PointsBet and FanDuel, among others — likely applied for Virginia licenses. The current law allows for up to 12 licenses, but the new legislation calls for licenses that go to casinos and pro franchises not counting against the 12.
William Hill and BetRivers will likely be licensed through two of the casinos.
WynnBET could become the official online sportsbook of two iconic racing venues in the state — Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway. Both racetracks will combine to host four NASCAR Cup Series races per year, the most of any state in the country.