Virginia sports betting has officially begun.
There was a lot of confusion earlier this week, as Virginia’s first sportsbook launch was “imminent” and then “coming soon” and then “coming tomorrow” and then, well, it began. Just like that.
The Virginia Lottery issued its first permit to FanDuel Sportsbook and the largest operator in the United States went live around 2 p.m. ET on Thursday January 21. That made Virginia officially the second state in the US that is all mobile and all online. Tennessee was the first back on November 1.
Virginia voters did approve an expansion of gaming via a casino referendum back in November that will put four retail casinos in the state. That won’t have any effect on sports betting in the state, except that the sportsbooks that partner with the casinos will end up with a brick-and-mortar retail location.
Any operator that begins in Virginia from here on out will be accessible for everybody in the state. That even includes visitors from outside the state that sign up for Virginia sportsbooks. Because Virginia is a Remote Registration state, users don’t have to live in the state to sign up for sports betting accounts. They do, however, have to be physically located in the state of Virginia to make a deposit, place a bet, or complete the withdrawal process.
Geolocation technology will ensure that users are in a legal, approved jurisdiction, which, in this case, is the state of Virginia.
The Virginia General Assembly sent a proposal to the governor’s desk and sports betting was officially legalized on July 1. It took until January 21 for the first sportsbook to launch. While the delays were probably frustrating for the operators, those legal to bet, and a state that is desperate for tax money like so many because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was really important for Virginia to get it right.
Most neighboring states either have sportsbooks or will in the near future. Maryland is one of four states that put sports betting to a vote last November and it passed. Pennsylvania and West Virginia have taken sports bets for a long time. Virginia is also in close proximity to a state like New Jersey that has become the capital of sports wagering in the United States.
States that border states with legal sports betting are losing significant amounts of money to neighboring jurisdictions. In this case, that amount of pressure was enough for a state like Virginia to move forward, despite never really having any big expansions of gaming prior.
States like Tennessee and Virginia are going to be good test cases for the other states without casinos to see how online and mobile sports betting will work with lottery oversight. Those are two of only 10 states without a casino. Of course, Virginia is getting some soon, but they didn’t have any at the time sports betting went legal.
More and more states are realizing the tax revenue that can be generated by taxing and legalizing sports betting and that is a great thing going forward for those in states that have not yet seen the light. We’re seeing progress in a lot of states that were thought to be tough nuts to crack. Again, Virginia, a state that had the lottery, but not much else, and only one horse track, had lawmakers that saw the importance of joining in with all of the other states that have taken advantage of the end of PASPA.
These developments will keep happening around the country in 2021 and beyond. Virginia is also a state with no pro teams and those sports leagues have become the chief lobbyists to approve sports betting. That should mean a lot of optimism for states like Georgia, Florida, Missouri, and maybe even some of the big prizes like California and Texas.
With FanDuel Sportsbook now in Virginia, and more to come like BetMGM, DraftKings, William Hill, BetRivers, and possibly PointsBet in the not too distant future, Virginians will have a lot of options and this is a really good sign of things to come in other states as well.