Virginia closer to adding more sports betting licences

Simona Boshkova | Published 2 Mar 2021, 9:45 a.m.

The US sports betting market is increasing at a fast pace, and many states already saw record numbers in betting handle. We’ve already covered Indiana’s sports betting record for January, reporting an 11% increase in money wagered on sports from the previous record-breaking month. Michigan and Pennsylvania were also among the states that reached record betting handles in January, opening the year with millions of wagers. These figures make the sports betting market expand, which is why Virginia considers adding more sports betting licences in the state. Namely, a new bill is on its way to Gov. Ralph Northam, which if signed by Northam, would go into effect on July 1.

The bill sees a couple of significant changes

Sports betting in Virginia launched in January 2021 with FanDuel and DraftKings being the first operators to go live. There was confusion over why more operators didn’t launch in the state as it was reported that Virginia received a record number in betting applications. Now, a new bill that foresees more sports betting operators in Virginia is just a few steps from Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk.

At first, there were two bills - HB 1847 from Del. Mark Sickles and SB 1254 from Sen. Jeremy McPike. The bills defined a couple of details from last year’s sports betting legislation and the two bodies discussed over language in the House bill that was added to promote more minority participation in the licencing process. Now, Sickles and McPike just need to sign the final bill and send it to the governor.

As it was announced, the bill sees a couple of significant changes. First of all, mobile sports betting licences will be separated from casino licences which at the moment fall into the same category. Then, it was proposed for Olympic betting to be allowed, as it was not allowed at first by the Virginia Lottery. Finally, the bill includes giving the Lottery the authority to approve new sports betting markets, so future legislation won’t be necessary.

Earlier in February, Del. Mark Sickles said that the bill will probably be passed, but he might have to speed up the process of making betting on Olympic sports to go into effect before the Summer Games in Tokyo start. It’s expected that the bill would go into effect in July if everything goes as planned.

Virginia operators generate almost $59m in the first 11 days

Online sports betting went live in Virginia on January 21 and has been allowing 4 operators to accept wagers. Now, Virginia Lottery reported a sports betting handle of $58.9 million in the first 11 days of January after launch.

Of the $58.9 million generated in January, the operators held gross revenue of nearly $3.6 million with a hold of 6.09%. That is because operators gave $6.34 million in promotions and bonuses that come with the launch of sports betting, and they also gave $478,000 in other deductions. Furthermore, of the 15% tax on sports betting in Virginia, 97% goes to the state’s General Fund and 2.5% goes to the problem gambling fund managed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health.