Super Bowl 55 is less than a month away, but Virginia lawmakers have mobile sports betting on the fast track and intend to get it across the finish line in advance of the big game on February 7th.
The Virginia Lottery, the governing body of sports betting in VA, is preparing to issue 12 licenses for mobile sports betting app operators to begin serving customers in the Old Dominion.
Per the recently introduced legislative language, the state’s pre-existing casinos that meet “certain criteria” will be granted a sports betting permit that is separate from the 12 they are offering to outside vendors.
There are no casinos in Virginia at this time but plans are in place to construct gambling resorts and convert existing properties into gaming meccas. VA has hedged their bet by grandfathering their in-state casinos into sports betting legislation to allow for them to easily roll out their sportsbook operations once constructed.
There are several sports categories where betting is not allowed. Wagering on youth sports is prohibited, and betting on college sports where a Virginia team is involved is off the table. Also shelved is betting on the Olympics.
There will be live betting on pro sports, but NCAA athletics will be limited to pregame wagers.
The law has set a minimum age of 21 years old to lay some action on sports via the state’s new mobile betting apps, which leaves the door open for 18, 19, and 20-year-old bettors to venture offshore for their sports betting needs.
Projections on state tax revenue intakes hover in the neighborhood of $30 million per year, which would represent a 15% take on an estimated $200 million earned by Virginia sportsbooks.
The municipalities of Bristol, Norfolk, Danville, and Portsmouth have plans in place to establish casinos, and voters just approved of a Richmond casino last November. A legislative path has already been laid to grant the future Richmond casino a sportsbook license and is on the agenda for this or next session.
Sports betting in Virginia Beach would be an attractive option for visiting tourists, but setting up sportsbooks near the coast is not a priority at this time.
Virginia Casinos With Domestic Sportsbook Permits
- Caesars Virginia – Danville, VA
- Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Bristol – Bristol, VA
- Norfolk Resort Casino – Norfolk, CA (Tribal)
- Rivers Casino – Portsmouth, VA
Future Virginia Sportsbooks
- Casino in Richmond, VA
The allowance for mobile sportsbooks to operate in Virginia will serve taxpayers in two ways. The first is that it will allow for the intake of tax collections immediately with no need to wait for the construction of any facilities.
The second is that the stigma of sports betting will be removed well in advance of the doors opening at domestic Virginia sportsbooks. Once that happens, they’ll have the full spectrum of sports betting options at their disposal – mobile, in-person, and offshore.
Virginia, while not containing major sports franchises inside their state’s borders, is located within a pro and college sports epicenter. All four major sports leagues have franchises that are accessible within a four-hour drive of Virginia, so interest in wagering is expected to be high.
In the coming days, the Virginia state legislature will hastily attempt to cover their bets in the legal language to ensure that mobile sportsbooks are open for business in time to bet on Super Bowl LV. February 7th can’t come soon enough.