New Virginia Legislation Clarifies Sports Betting Licenses

Virginia is one of the latest states to launch legal online sports betting within its borders. FanDuel was first to market with its mobile sportsbook app in January of 2021.

That exclusive run lasted just three days with industry heavyweights DraftKings and BetMGM also joining the mix on Jan. 24.

The overall result in the first 11 days of betting to close out January was a total handle of $58.9 million. That is not too shabby for a brand new market. The overall handle for February should be even more impressive given the fast start due to Super Bowl LV.

Virginia’s industry is similar to Tennessee sports betting. Since neither state has any land-based casinos, legal sports betting is only available online with most of the bets placed through mobile sportsbook apps.

That is about to change in the Old Dominion with the recent approval of four land-based casino projects through voter referendums. Plans to build a casino resort in Danville, Bristol, Norfolk, and Portsmouth are underway.

Plans for a fifth land-based casino resort in Richmond are taking shape ahead of a voter referendum in the state’s capital city this November.

In light of this change, the state’s legislation concerning legal sports betting needed to be altered. The original law passed in April of last year paved the way for up to 12 operator licenses for legal sports betting.

The new legislation is designed to separate mobile sportsbook licenses from casino licenses. Previously, they were considered to fall into the same category by the Virginia Lottery Board.

The Virginia Lottery is the regulatory body in charge of legal sports betting. By clarifying the difference between the two, this will open the door for five more online operators in the commonwealth through a total of 19 sports betting licenses.

Along with FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM, Rivers Casino Portsmouth and Caesars Virginia, LLC were the other two approved sports betting operators in the state when the initial launch took place.

Rivers Casino Portsmouth is operating as BetRivers and Caesars Virginia is connected with William Hill. That land-based casino will be located in Danville.

Another part of this new legislation would pave the way for legal betting on the Olympics. Since some of these competitors fall under the age of 18, the Winter and Summer Games were classified as youth sports. That classification would be changed under the new gaming law.

Separating out the five new casino licenses, there is quite a bit of room for expansion in available mobile operator licenses. This list of interested parties include:

Going back to January’s 11-day handle, the average hold for the active books was 6.08%. This percentage was weighed down due to $6.34 million in introductory promotions and bonuses. This led to a $3.2 million loss in adjusted gross revenue for the books but an extra $40,000 for the state in tax revenue.

The initial loss was expected but the long-term potential in this state remains rather attractive to the industry’s biggest players. The full month of February with the Super Bowl and March with the NCAA Tournament should provide a much clearer picture for the industry as a whole.

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