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In comparison to other US states announcing their official launch involving a group of sportsbooks to serve the public, Virginia surprised all announcing that only FanDuel had received permission to initially operate.
On Thursday afternoon FanDuel, a subsidiary of Flutter Entertainment officially began taking online wagers from Virginia bettors. That occurred after Flutter subsidiary Betfair Interactive US received its betting permit on Wednesday from the Virginia Lottery, which oversees all gambling activity within the state.
The announcement from FanDuel arrived in a tweet that it will be launching on Thursday at 2:30 PM and they subsequently went live. Adults within Virginia geolocation state lines can now sign-up, deposit, and wager with their phones, or any laptop or personal computer. Virginia is now the 17th state (18 countings in the District of Columbia) to launch a form of legal sports wagering in the US.
While sports betting was approved by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020, the Virginia Lottery set out targeting outside interests as part of the process to aid business efforts.
The new law included a controversial provision, allowing one sportsbook operator to partner with a local professional sports team. FanDuel took advantage of that opportunity by forging an alliance with the Washington Football Team.
As part of the regulations, pro sports teams based in Virginia were given “substantial and preferred consideration” in opening a sportsbook and could partner with an established operator to do so.
The Washington Football Team pays about $14 million a year in Virginia state taxes and is considering locations for a new stadium and headquarters facility. The partnership with FanDuel is looked upon as another reminder that Virginia is interested in building the new stadium within the commonwealth by partnering with the Washington Football Team. FanDuel was able to take advantage of that provision, getting a head start in what is projected to be a $400 million sports wagering market.
It is anticipated that other well-known sportsbook operators including DraftKings Sportsbook, BetMGM, BetRivers and PointsBet will be joining FanDuel soon in the Virginia sports wagering market. All have applied for licenses but as of Thursday have not received word of their status. BetRivers currently has a casino partnership in the state.
Understandably, many sportsbook operators will be anxious to join FanDuel as Virginia ranks 12th in the US in population with about 8.5 million people. The “Old Dominion” represents a great opportunity with bordering West Virginia and Washington DC underway with legalized sports wagering and doing quite well.
Larger bordering states including Maryland and North Carolina do not have legalized sports wagering yet and offer some ancillary revenue opportunity, although temporary as political leaders there are discussing legislating sports wagering for 2021.
For now, all sports wagering will be done online within the geolocation borders of the state. The state has plans for retail onsite locations soon. Wagering on Virginia college sports teams is prohibited.
Virginia Lottery spokesman John Hagerty said the awarding of more permits is imminent. In response to questions about other sportsbooks joining FanDuel going online, he said:
We anticipate more than one sportsbook will be in position to begin accepting legal wagers from Virginians in time for the Super Bowl.
For FanDuel Virginia bettors or those seeking to join up in the state, here are a few sample introductory offers available for new customers:
*Check the FanDuel website for more new customer introductory offers
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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