Sports lovers rejoice as the beginning of the new year brought the beginning of mobile sports betting in Virginia. Although this activity became legal in April 2020, when the state legislature passed a sports betting bill, the official betting on sports went live in January 2021.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the PASPA paved the way for the 2019 Senate Bill 1126 – the document that has legalized sports betting and casino gambling in the state and established the Virginia Lottery Board as a state regulator of the gambling sector. Building upon this legislation, the gambling expansion House Bill 4 was passed into law in 2020.
January of 2021 marked the official launch of sportsbooks in Virginia, led by FunDuel. Other operators such as DraftKings and BetMGM, weren’t far behind, with more to come. According to the current law, there can be between four and a maximum of 12 sportsbooks running in the state of Virginia.
… this might change soon. Although the legislation is still “green”, some of its creators will already like to add some amendments to it. Keep reading and find out what changes might happen to recently opened Virginia’s mobile sports betting market.
New Amendments To Legislation
One of the authors of the Virginia sports betting bill that was passed in 2020, considers that some amendments should be made. Del. Mark Sickles composed HB 1847 to polish some inconsistencies from the legislation regarding sports betting in this state.
These are technical amendments as the new bill clarifies the procedures by which the Virginia Lottery determines whether an event is considered youth sports, on which betting is prohibited. It also states that “a permit issued to a casino operator shall not count toward the maximum of 12 permits that the Director of the Virginia Lottery can issue and makes technical amendments related to the interaction between sports betting law and casino gaming law”.
… the state’s regulator was essentially choosing between four and seven online-only licenses with those five counting against the cap.
“Those potentially five casinos were not to count against the upper limit of 12 licenses, but the lottery did not read it that way. That is not what we intended”, explained Sickles.
His bill also clarifies that casinos are not just operating through a mobile app and can have retail sportsbooks as well. But Stickles isn’t alone in his agenda, as another sponsor of the original legislation, Sen. Jeremy McPike, has submitted SB 1254 bill with the same amendments as well.
HB 1847 is pending a hearing in the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee, while SB 1254 hasn’t been assigned to a House committee yet.
Sickles Believe That Olympic Betting Should Be Allowed
The current law prohibits betting on any college or youth sports events. However, betting on the Olympics is still in a blur.
Along with increasing the number of operators in the industry…
… Sickles clarifies that betting on the Olympics is allowed, as his bill explains the difference between youth sports and Olympic competitions. This issue is on the table because the Lottery denied requests by multiple operators to include Olympic betting in the regulations.
But at the time, the regulator’s spokesperson confirmed this might be changed through legislation.
According to the statement of The Virginia Lottery s in favor of Sickles’ proposed changes, according to the statement of its Executive Director, Kevin Hall, presented at the virtual meeting.
Mobile Sports Betting In Virginia Is Still Cloudy
The launch of the Virginia sportsbook by FanDuel took the gambling community by surprise because the Virginia Lottery has handled the entire licensing process behind closed doors. Until recently, the Lottery has shared only the fact that 25 sportsbooks applied for licenses.
By the state’s law…
… the lottery’s executive director must award at least four and at most 12 mobile-only sportsbooks. Meaning the number of awarded licenses (within a lawful range) is solely based on the director Kevin Hall‘s feel for what creates the best economic outcome.
So far, the regulator has announced on its official site names of five brands that are “Approved Permit Holders”:
- Betfair Interactive US LLC (FanDuel) in conjunction with the Washington Football Team
- Crown Virginia Gaming, LLC (Draft Kings)
- BetMGM, LLC
- Portsmouth Gaming Holdings, LLC d/b/a Rivers Casino Portsmouth (BetRivers Sportsbook)
- Caesars Virginia, LLC (William Hill)
FanDuel released its app on the market first, closely followed by DraftKings Incorporated who launched its mobile-friendly service app to Virginia’s sports bettors.
For the launching of BetRivers sportsbook in Virginia, the brand’s operator Rush Street Interactive partnered with the upcoming Rivers Casino Portsmouth. Although the land-based casino will come later, the mobile app for sports fans in the state is up and running.
BetMGM sportsbook from MGM Resorts International was right behind. As a brand tending to have a footprint at every legalized online sport betting market in the USA, it also has a strong land-based presence across the country, including neighboring Maryland.
To expand in the fast-growing U.S. sports-betting market…
…Caesars is in a process of purchasing renowned operator William Hill in a $3.69 billion deal. VA sportsbook from William Hill (through Caesars’s casino license) should be available to bettors from February 2021.
This is a current list of VA sportsbooks, but not necessarily a final one. As the initial application period has closed, the Lottery is no longer accepting applications for casino gambling and sports betting permits until April 2021.
More Competition, More Benefits To Users
Passing of the new HB 1847 and SB 1254 bills might result in more operators entering the market. Generally speaking, more competition leads to a better and healthier market.
When there are more sportsbooks, users have a bigger choice. So, operators have to give their best to attract customers to their platforms. This usually results in better promotions and bonuses, such as free bets or deposit matches, ranging from a couple of bucks to a few hundred dollars.
The time will tell will the proposed new legislation be accepted by the authorities. One thing is for sure – mobile sports betting in Virginia could benefit greatly from the positive outcome.