Washington became the first state to legalize sports betting in 2020 back in March. Now, Virginia has become the second state to do so after two bills became law last week. Despite legalizing sports betting more than a month after Washington, Virginia residents may be placing legal bets before Washington residents.
While Washington is still having issues about sports betting in its state, Virginia is looking to get sports betting going as quickly as possible. Two bills were passed in Virginia that legalized sports betting, House Bill 896 [https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB896] and Senate Bill 384 [https://legiscan.com/VA/bill/SB384/2020]. Both bills will officially go into effect on July 1st.
While July 1st is the earliest the bills can go into effect, it is unlikely that sports betting will begin that early in Virginia. However, it won’t be much longer after that date either. The Virginia Lottery Board is responsible for overseeing legal sports betting in Virginia and they have to come up with rules and regulations by September 15th. This gives Virginia a reasonable expectation to have sports betting launched sometime in 2020.
It wasn’t an easy path for Virginia to finally end up legalizing sports betting. After failed attempts in previous years, Governor Ralph Northam finally helped Virginia get over the hump. Once Northam received both bills, he sent them both back to the state legislature with his own recommendations. It didn’t take too long for both chambers to agree to the changes.
Perhaps one of Northam’s biggest changes was adding in a $50,000 background checking fee for sports betting operator’s major employees. The Virginia Lottery Board is tasked with determining what exactly a principal employee is.
Under the new sports betting bills in Virginia, teams that are part of the MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL and located in Virginia can apply for a sports betting license. A big reason this was added into the bill was to try and attract the Washington Redskins to relocate to Virginia.
Another addition that Governor Northam wanted was to include NASCAR tracks into the bill. Lawmakers approved this and now the state’s two major racetracks (Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway) can apply for a sports betting license as well.
Other aspects of the sports betting bills include:
- A $250,000 licensing fee. Unlike some other states, it won’t be an annual fee but instead will last for three years at a time.
- Sports betting revenue will be taxed at 15 percent.
- Online sports betting will also be legal.
- The use of official league data will be required for live-betting.
- Betting on in-state colleges is not permitted.
- A number of cities in Virginia (Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond) are eligible to build new casinos.