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It took Virginia until January 2021 to embrace legal sports gambling for its residents, and despite there being no casinos there (yet) or any other physical gambling venues, bettors can only place wager online, and they have done that and then some.
In fact, Old Dominion gamblers have wagered at least $3.7 billion since that market launched, generating a record monthly handle in January 2022 of $485 million, money that used to be spent using unregulated sportsbooks and illicit bookies now benefitting inhabitants of the state.
Legalizing that market and thereby eliminating the need for those gambling black markets is good for Virginians according to Larry Henry, a senior reporter at Gambling.com, who said in a statement:
Virginia is a success story. It’s a heavily regulated industry now. It puts everything out into the open. It’s a form of entertainment for a lot of people.
That multi-billion-dollar handle is misleading, though, since the actual financial benefits for the state of Virginia is considerably less.
In January, that record $485 million handle generated by Virginia’s legal sports betting market is misleading in terms of profitability, since those wagers won bettors $446 million in return, leaving those mobile sportsbooks a $39 million revenue stream that is eventually taxed at 15%.
But first they got to subtract all the bonuses and giveaways they offered to gamblers to get that market started and what was left was $18 million to be taxed at 15% which comes to $2.7 million for the state, not as much as might be expected given that record handle.
It’s a slow start that was expected by Del. Mark Sickles, the sponsor of the legislation that led to Virginia’s legalized sports betting market, telling the press:
We’re still in the early days of sports betting and I think the market will develop with time. It’s not as lucrative source of income for the state like a casino would be or the lottery is.
But that could change once the market matures.
The launch bonuses that sportsbooks in Virginia are offering to attract new customers won’t last forever, and once that phase of the operation is completed there will be more revenue to tax, and that could increase the amount the state brings in through gambling.
While Del. Sickles admits that so far this new sports betting market has come up far short of the projected $55 million in annual tax revenue that lawmakers were hoping for, he points out that it creates a new income stream that directly benefits residents, saying:
The taxes that are being paid on it – they’re not a lot, but they do help with the important things that state government spends money on.
Most of that sports betting tax revenue goes towards the state’s general fund which in turn benefits valuable programs like education, public safety, and health services, with a small percentage also going towards fighting problem gambling that could now arise in Virginia.
It’s a story we will continue to cover so check back for all the latest news and updates.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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