Virginia sports betting will be up and running in time for Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, according to the state’s lottery director.
Speaking with WTKR News 3 in Norfolk, Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall says the state is nearing the goal line in accepting its first legal sports bet.
We’re close to the end zone, and once we begin to issue the first licenses — and once the sportsbooks feel like they’re ready to go — they can go live,” Hall explained.
In the state’s expansion of gambling last year, the Virginia Lottery was tasked with regulating sports betting and its operators. Since there are no land-based casinos in the Commonwealth yet, sports betting in Virginia will initially be fully online.
Hall says 12 license applications have been approved. Bettors must be located inside the state and at least 21 years of age. Oddsmakers will not be able to offer lines on games involving Virginia colleges. Additionally, in-game bets will be off-limits for all college athletics.
Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from sports betting will be taxed at 15 percent.
Virginia is for Sports Lovers
Though Virginia isn’t home to any professional sports teams in the Big Four — NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL — state residents are passionate sports fans. The northern part of the state neighbors numerous pro teams, including the NFL Washington Football Team, MLB Nationals, NBA Wizards, and NHL Capitals.
In the 18 states that have joined Nevada in running legal sports betting, it’s become quite apparent that mobile operations are key. The vast majority of wagers in states with mobile betting are facilitated online.
Another attractive component for sports betting operators is the state’s demographics. Virginia ranks No. 12 in population, more than 8.5 million people calling the Commonwealth home.
Virginia’s population is also well-paid. The state ranks No. 11 in income, the median household taking in approximately $72,600 a year.
Virginia Goes All-In
For decades, Virginia staunchly opposed nearly all forms of gambling. Aside from its lottery, the state had no commercial or tribal casinos. Today, only eight states have no casinos: Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont.
Republicans lost their control of the Virginia General Assembly last year. The GOP had held a majority in the Senate and House since 2015. The House had been in the Republicans’ control since 2000.
With Democrats holding a trifecta in the Richmond capital and Gov. Ralph Northam (D) taking office in 2018, gambling finally had adequate support.
Approved last April, Virginia’s commercial gaming bill legalized sports betting, and also allowed five economically struggling cities to hold ballot referendums to authorize a casino resort. Voters in four of those towns have already signed off on supporting a casino to spur economic growth in their hometowns: Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Bristol.
Richmond, the other qualifying city, plans to hold its casino ballot referendum next November.
Along with sports betting and casinos, Virginia lawmakers also legalized historical horse racing terminals at Colonial Downs Racetrack, as well as at Rosie’s Gaming Emporium locations.
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