There is good news for sports bettors in Virginia as plans are advancing to have wagering available in the state by Super Bowl weekend. The big game is scheduled to be played in Tampa on Sunday, February 7.
Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall expects to have sports wagering operational and has said the state is nearing the goal line in sports betting legalization. Citing protection for Virginia as a priority, Hall said:
The priority is here in Virginia; sports betting is offered in a safe and responsible way. Strong consumer protections, guardrails that prevent underage gambling, procedures, and audits to make sure there’s no criminal activity like money laundering or tax evasion.
Plans call for the Virginia Lottery to oversee all sports betting operations in the Commonwealth. The state does not have casinos in Virginia; therefore, they will adopt a similar approach to Tennessee with an online sports betting platform only.
In the future, there remains the hope of expansion to allow for casinos but at present, the state will remain with an online-only policy. Last April the state expanded gaming laws by allowing five cities in Virginia to build casinos based on referendums. The casinos should be ready for operation by the end of 2022 or potentially early 2023.
Hall mentioned that 12 license applications have been approved of the initial 25 applications received. According to state law, bettors must be located inside state barriers and be at least 21 years of age. Sportsbook operators will not be able to offer lines on games involving Virginia college athletics. Also, in-game wagering will not be allowed for all college athletic events nor wagering on any upcoming Olympic events.
The state is taxing gross gaming revenue from sports betting at 15%. Initial forecasts for Virginia estimate $400 million in revenue in 2021 if within the Super Bowl weekend launch date. Tax funding is being aimed to support the state’s education system. A percentage will also be reserved to aid problem gambling.
Although Virginia does not have any professional sports teams within the state, the highly populated northern side lies close to the Washington DC area. Many people are loyal fans to the NFL Washington Football Team, NBA Wizards, NHL Capitals, and MLB Nationals.
Many nearby bettors have recently become more familiar as the DC area also welcomed legalized sports wagering in May 2020, available online and run through the DC Lottery.
Other plusses for Virginia include a dense population base with over 8.5 million people living in the state. Virginia ranks 12th in the US population ranking with a robust average household income of approximately $72,500 per year.
The Virginia Commonwealth is also known for its strong auto racing presence. Motivation is powerful enough for NASCAR to partner with WynnBet, who will likely enter the state sometime later this year.
News should be forthcoming very soon naming operators anxious to offer welcome bonuses for new accounts and to help guide new players into the Virginia sports wagering market.
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Larry Gibbs is both a seasoned journalist and a respected online gaming industry consultant. His wry commentary & sharp analysis have appeared in numerous top gaming and sports wagering publications. He has also served as Vice President of US Gaming Services, a marketing research organization with 15 years of experience in US online wagering. He has spoken at noted gaming industry conferences including G2E, GiGSE, and NCLGS.
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