Virginia Mobile Sports Betting to Commence in Early 2021

Posted on: December 22, 2020, 09:29h. 

Last updated on: December 22, 2020, 10:16h.

Mobile sports betting in Virginia is expected to get underway in the early part of 2021, with more than a dozen interactive platforms taking wagers in the new year.

Virginia Lottery mobile sports betting
The Virginia Lottery is in the process of formally issuing more than a dozen mobile sports betting permits. (Image: Virginia Lottery)

The Virginia Lottery, which is tasked with issuing applications and regulating sports betting, said last month that it had received 25 applications to conduct mobile sportsbooks. Specific applicant names were not disclosed, but the usual suspects are expected to enter the Commonwealth, including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and William Hill.

The high level of interest by national and international sports betting operators validates Virginia’s efforts to strike an appropriate and responsible balance in its regulatory program for legalized sports betting,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall.

Hall says the first legally wagered sports bet in Virginia is imminent. The lottery executive revealed to the Associated Press that mobile sportsbooks will go online in time for the Super Bowl, which is slated for February 7.

Betting on college sports teams based in Virginia will not be permitted.

All Online, For Now

Virginia is following neighbor Tennessee in initially allowing sports betting to operate fully online. As is the case in the Volunteer State, Virginia currently does not have any land-based casinos.

That will change in the coming years, as four commercial casinos have been cleared to move forward. Casinos in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Danville are in the works.

Danville has partnered with Caesars Entertainment, Portsmouth with Rush Street Gaming, and Bristol with Hard Rock International. Norfolk is working with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and billionaire Jon Yarbrough for its gaming development.

Caesars uses William Hill to conduct its mobile sports betting operations. Rush Street has its own proprietary platform, and Hard Rock last week announced its forthcoming interactive gaming and sports betting product.

Physical land-based sportsbooks will be incorporated into the four commercial casinos. But they aren’t expected to be built and open until at least 2022.

Virginia Gaming Law

The 2020 gaming bill that legalized the land-based casinos and sports betting calls for a minimum of four and maximum of 12 sports betting operating licenses. However, “a permit shall not count toward this maximum if it is issued pursuant to an applicable major league sports franchise” that has a presence in Virginia.

Hall says three professional sports organizations qualify — the NFL Washington Football Team, MLS DC United franchise, and NASCAR. The NFL Washington has its practice facility in Ashburn. DC United’s practice facility is in Springfield. NASCAR owns and operates the Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway.

The three sports groups, Hall reveals, are partnering with numerous mobile sportsbooks. That’s why far more than 12 internet operators will be operational in 2021.

Virginia will impose a 15 percent tax on mobile sports betting gross gaming revenue. That number is what the oddsmakers keep after paying out winning bets.

The Commonwealth expects to receive around $5 million in sports betting taxes in the initial year. As the market expands and matures, that number is projected to swell to more than $50 million annually.

The US Census Bureau says the median household income in Virginia last year was $76,456, far higher than the $65,712 national average. The only states ranking higher in median household income are Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington. Only Maryland currently has sports betting operational.