Virginia to legalise sports betting and casino gambling

Viktor Vangelov | Published 9 Mar 2020, 4:01 p.m.

We’ve reported on gambling legislation in multiple US states lately. In fact, last week we reported on two individual cases, including the new Alabama bill which is set to legalise sports betting and then we also gave you an update on the situation in Montana where sports betting could start next month.

This time we bring you news on Virginia, where the legislative session has been extended and lasted up until yesterday. Towards the end of the session, state lawmakers passed a bill that legalised both sports betting and other forms of gambling. This piece of legislation has been regarded as historic, especially if we consider the fact that Virginia has been quite hostile towards gambling and where all forms except horse racing have been prohibited.

With the recently passed bill, permission to establish casinos in Danville, Portsmouth, Richmond, Bristol and Norfolk has been granted. Of course, these decisions will have to be confirmed by the citizens and the state will most likely hold a referendum on the matter in November.

Compromise reached on college sports betting

The state has not permitted the establishment of land-based casinos and other gambling venues before, but now, online gambling becomes a viable option within its borders.

Before being passed into a law, the bill will go to the state governor – Democrat Ralph Northam who is expected to sign it, based on the fact that the bill was supposed by the Assembly which is controlled by the Democrats. This will be one of the most revolutionary gambling bills in the US, following its ratification.

College sports, i.e. the possibility of betting on college sports was the only issue that halted the progress of the bill, but that issue has been resolved. Namely, with the current solution, it will not be permitted to bet on Virginia college sports, but it will be possible to bet on college sporting events that take place outside of the state.

Tax is one of the main motives for states to allow sports betting and in this case, Virginia will be gathering 15% of sports betting revenue and this was one of the compromises that lawmakers managed to reach this week.

One of the key priorities was to make sports betting possible before the beginning of the NFL season.

18 sports betting licenses to be issued in Virginia

All of this wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the Supreme Court decision of 2018 which saw the outlawing of PASPA which effectively allowed sports betting across the country.

One of the issues that lawmakers found difficult to reach an agreement on was the number of sports betting licenses. The number of licenses has been increased to 18, up by 6 compared to the original plan and this puts Virginia somewhere in the middle between Pennsylvania which allows 14 licenses and New Jersey where 30 online sports betting licenses have been issued.

One of the delegates, who sponsored the bill – Mark Sickles, asked the lottery board to consider the option of allowing sports betting operators to offer mobile betting, in addition to conventional online betting.