Virginia Sports Betting on Track for Pre-Super Bowl Launch
The Lottery Board received 25 wagering license applications between October 15-31, but the agency has not revealed the names of the sportsbook operators that have expressed interest in entering the state’s nascent market.
Kevin Hall, Executive Director of the Virginia Lottery, said before the state House Appropriations Committee that there “has been a high level of interest by leading national and international operators” and that they expect to issue the first sports betting licenses in the first days of 2021.
This means that while Virginia bettors will miss out on regular-season football betting, playoff and Super Bowl betting would still be an available option.
Virginia legalized sports betting earlier this year as part of a wider gambling expansion reform that also authorized up to five land-based casinos in five cash-strapped cities around the state. Under that reform, the Virginia Lottery Board is set to issue up to 12 online-only sports betting licenses to interested operators.
The agency must award a minimum of four licenses, but it is still unclear whether it would grant all 12 of them. It should also be noted that five of the licenses are reserved for the state’s future five casinos.
Voters in the cities of Bristol, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Danville approved their proposed casino projects at citywide referendums in November. A casino proposed for Richmond is yet to be approved by residents.
Applicants Currently Under Review
Mr. Hall told state lawmakers that the Lottery Board is currently reviewing the betting license applicants and will conduct the required background and suitability checks within the 90-day time frame outlined in the state’s sports betting law.
Virginia bettors will be allowed to place bets on professional sports, college sports except events involving state colleges, and other sports events. In addition, bets will be allowed on individual performance of athletes in the permitted sports and events.
Mr. Hall said that the public has responded positively to the sports betting legalization and regulation process. The Lottery Board executive explained that their initial regulatory draft “drew wide public comment and helpful recommendations from citizens, from major sports betting and casino operators, from several of the major sporting leagues.”
He added that industry stakeholders have said the Lottery Board has been “transparent, accessible, and reasonable during the rulemaking process.”
According to a 2019 report from Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Report, legal sports betting is expected to generate $5 million in annual tax revenue for the state in the first year since launched and around $50 million by year five.
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