The Commonwealth of Virginia plans to be among the jurisdictions to launch sports betting in 2020. The Virginia Lottery is going to start accepting applications for sports betting permits in late September and will have up to 90 days to make a determination on the entities that have applied.
That means that Virginia is likely to miss out on a big chunk of football revenue later this year, but should be able to capitalize on the winter sports like college basketball, the NBA, and the NHL. The legislation that was passed prohibits wagering on college teams from the state of Virginia and events happening in the Commonwealth, so that will cut into some of the handle with the absence of UVA and Virginia Tech.
Nevertheless, Virginia is moving forward and will be another East Coast state with approved betting. The legislation goes into effect on July 1, but it seems like the process is going to take quite a bit of time to get set up and work all of the provisions and regulations of House Bill 896 and Senate Bill 384 into place.
Sports betting will be online only in Virginia. It looks as though the Lottery will have a lot of responsibilities with overseeing the process, but “sports betting platforms” will be granted permits to operate in the Commonwealth. The earliest start date is expected to be mid-to-late December. We’ll see how many operators will be rushing into Virginia to get operations going as quickly as possible. The timeline isn’t all that conducive to making money right away, but the online only component is a big selling point.
In-game betting will not be available for any college sports, which is not a selling point at all. The language of the bill is really restrictive on college athletics relative to a lot of other states, so we’ll see how much that hurts Virginia’s bottom line, particularly in a state that does have a lot of Division I college athletics.
On the plus side, as we continue to evaluate the give and take of the Virginia sports betting bills, in-person registration is not required. With sports betting done online, registration can take place anywhere in the state. Even though the lottery is 18 and over, sports betting will be 21 and over.
It could be a fairly competitive market in Virginia. The tax rate is 15% on the adjusted gross revenue, which is relatively average compared to the other states that have adopted legal sports betting. Legislation dictates that the Lottery shall issue at least four permits and no more than 12, so we could see a lot of operators setting up shop late in 2020 or early in 2021. The fact that retail sportsbook construction is not required will lower overhead costs for operators and that will be rather enticing.
For now, Virginians play the waiting game. Legislation goes into effect July 1 and the Lottery Board has a September 15 deadline to figure out exactly how things will be run. A December start date seems like an eternity away, but given that we didn’t know prior to May 2018 if we would ever be able to bet on sports outside of Nevada, waiting seven months doesn’t seem that bad.
When Virginia does go live, we’ll have the state covered and also have reviews of the different operators and promotions available right here at ATS.