How to Bet on Sports in Virginia: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners in VA

Fact Checked by Blake Weishaar

The legalization of Virginia sports betting took place in 2021. And since you may have questions on how to bet, here's our complete guide on betting in Old Dominion. 

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How to Bet on Sports in Virginia

Now that sports betting is officially live in Virginia, it's important to know where and how to place bets. For now, the primary form of betting is through VA sportsbook apps, which provide a quick and simple method of betting from the convenience of your phone. Eventually, there will also be in-person sportsbooks at some of Virginia's casinos, so check back to see what that becomes a possibility. 

How to Bet on Sports Online in Virginia

As of January 2021, sports betting has been live in Virginia and the market has grown to over a dozen operators. 

Now that it's live, you'll want to pay attention to what sportsbooks are offering wagering and which Virginia sports betting promos you can claim. Remember that you can bet online via mobile and desktop or in person at one of the retail sportsbooks. 

The Legal Requirements

Before you place a legal bet in Virginia you will need to:

  • Be at least 21 years of age or older
  • Be located within the state lines
  • Turn on your geolocation
  • Provide the last 4 of your Social Security Number for tax purposes
  • You do not need to be a resident of Virginia

Choose a Sportsbook

With sports betting being live, many online sportsbooks are vying for the top spot in Virginia. That means you have the choice among more than a dozen sportsbooks to bet with. And you can bet freely with more than one operator if you choose. First, we recommend checking out the welcome bonuses to see which sports betting sites will offer the most value out of the gate.

From there, you can compare odds for each sporting event. However, we also recommend finding sites or apps that are easy to navigate and provide a smooth interface, wide selection of betting options and markets and quality customer support. 

Create an Account

After choosing a sportsbook, you'll find a link to create an account (typically located in the upper right corner of the sports betting site's page). From there, you'll provide personal information and agree to geolocation software. The process shouldn't take any longer than five minutes, no matter which site you choose to sign up with. 

Terms apply for all bonuses. Must be 21+ to participate.  
Must be 21+ to participate in VA. T&Cs apply. Play Responsibly. Gambling problem? Call 1-888-532-3500

How to Place Bets on Sports Online in Virginia

Placing bets online in Virginia is as convenient as enjoying a peaceful day in Shenandoah Valley. Note that there are several types of bets that you can make, each of which with their own distinct way of placing a wager. For example, moneyline bets are typically considered the easiest type of bet, whereas parlays or teasers might require a bit more understanding. 

Every sports betting market is different, and that also goes for various sports including our beloved local teams. For instance, betting on the NFL is considered easier than betting on golf or baseball, part of the reason why NFL is king for betting. This isn't to say that you shouldn't bet on any particular sport, just be sure to take time understanding how to bet on sports in Virginia. 

Once you have a good understanding of betting, you'll need to go through the standard process of signing up for a sportsbook and searching for a particular sport or market that you are interested in. Almost every sports betting operator yearns to make this process seamless. For instance, ESPN BET Virginia is among the favorites for new bettors given its ease of use and user-friendly interface. 

How to Read Betting Odds in Virginia

Understanding betting odds is crucial, whether you're betting on the Capitals bringing home the Stanley Cup or the Nationals hitting a home run.

Positive Odds

Positive odds in sports betting are notated with a plus sign (+). If odds have a "+" in front of it, this means that the team or selection is less favored and will pay out more on a bet. 

An easy to way to remember is that the number associated with those odds represent how much you'd win if you bet $100. For instance, if you bet $100 on odds at +150, you'd win $150 with a successful $100 wager. Head over to Caesars Sportsbook VA to check these odds out. 

Negative Odds

Negative odds are just the opposite of positive odds, yet just as easy to comprehend. When betting negative odds, you'll see a minus sign (-) in front of a selection. This means that this team or bet is favored, and that you'll be paid out less than you would with positive odds. 

For example, if you bet $100 on the Capitals moneyline at -120, you'll need to bet $120 to win $100. 

Even Odds

Even odds are seen less frequent than positive or negative, and are reserved for events where the odds are so close that a favorite side cannot be determined. These odds, essentially a 50-50 shot at winning, can be notated at -100 or +100, but the payout would be the same with a winning bet. Check out these types of odds at BetMGM Virginia

European Odds vs. American Odds

Aside from the aforementioned odds, it's important to understand that there are also plenty other ways to read betting odds. 

One of these is European odds, which are typically referred to as decimal odds. Rather than seeing a plus or minus sign in front of a selection, you'd see a number with a decimal point. In order to convert American odds to decimal odds, there's a simple formula to follow. 

  • For positive odds, the formula is (120/100)+1. This results in decimal odds of 2.2.
  • For negative odds, the formula is (100/120)+1. This results in decimal odds of 1.83.
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Common Sports Bet Types Available in Virginia

From moneyline bets on the Commanders to point spreads on the Wizards, Virginia offers a variety of bet types for every sports enthusiast.

  • Moneyline Moneyline bets are the most straightforward type of bet. With a moneyline, you'll bet on a team to win a game outright. For example, if a team is -200, they're the favorite, and you'd need to wager $200 to win $100.
  • Point Spread Point spreads designate the gap in expected points between two teams. While betting, you'll see the odds for each bet typically around -110, and the point spread designated with a "+" or "-". For example, if you're betting on the Commanders at -2.5, they must win the game by three or more points. If they win by just two points, you'll lose that bet. On the other hand, if the Commanders are +2.5, they need to win or lose by less than three points for you to win your bet.
  • Over/Unders or Totals Over/unders and totals are the same idea when it comes to sports betting, and they're a simple wager type. Over/unders or totals just means how many points will be scored in a game. For these wagers, a line will be provided on whether or not the final score will exceed or have fewer combined points than that line suggests. If the Capitals are playing the Penguins, that line could be 5.5, and you'd bet over or under that number of goals scored.
  • Parlays Parlays allow bettors to combine two or more wagers into a single bet. With a parlay, you'll have much higher odds with each bet (or leg) added, so there's always the potential to win big while placing a parlay bet. The one downside to parlays is that you have to win every leg of your parlay in order to win, so these types of bets will test your risk tolerance. Most sportsbooks also offer Same Game Parlays as a form of parlay bet. These types of parlays offer bettors to place multiple wagers on one single game.
  • Futures Futures bets allow bettors to wager on events that take place in the future. Popular examples of futures bets are championship winners, awards winners and win totals. These types of bets will tie up your funds for an extended period of time but typically offer great payouts with wins.
  • Prop Bets Prop bets, or proposition bets, involve specific bets on teams or player statistics. Popular forms of props are the number of points a basketball player will score, which player will score a touchdown or who will hit a homerun.
  • Live Bets or In-Game Bets Live betting involve betting on games while they're actively in progress, sometimes called in-play betting. These bets can either be used as a betting strategy or simply because you forgot to place a pre-match wager. Live betting grants access to the same betting markets as pre-live games, including moneyline, point spreads, totals, props and more.

Most Popular Sports to Bet on in Virginia

Football, basketball, baseball, and hockey are the most popular sports in Virginia as the state hosts a team for each. Every sport offers unique betting opportunities, especially when it comes to our local teams.

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  • NFL Betting NFL is king, and betting on the NFL is the most important thing to online sportsbooks as it has the biggest market. You'll have access to not only all of the betting markets mentioned above, but you can expect numerous promotions dedicated to the sport, which lasts 18 regular season weeks, then another four weeks of playoff action leading up to the Super Bowl. And there are plenty of bets to be made on the NFL, including the Washington Commanders Super Bowl odds.
  • NBA Betting The NBA season is longer than the NFL, with 82 regular season games and four rounds of best-of-seven series leading up to the NBA Finals. You'll have access to all of the betting markets the NFL offers. While we wait for the Wizards to make another run at the NBA Championship, there are plenty of opportunities for betting on the NBA.
  • MLB Betting Of all "big four" United States sports, the MLB season is by far the longest, stretching from late March to November, including a 162-game regular season, wild card matchup, best-of-five divisional round, and two best-of-seven series for the Championship Series and World Series. The Nationals are undoubtedly the most popular MLB team for Virginia sports bettors.
  • NHL Betting Rounding out the list of the top sports in the United States and for Virginia sports bettors is the NHL. The Washington Capitals call Washington DC their home, but Virginia is just as close to home for them. In fact, the Caps are perennial Stanley Cup favorites, so you can be sure that there are plenty of bets to be made on the team come NHL season.
  • Golf Betting The golf betting scene ramped up over the last year following the merger of the PGA TOUR and LIV Golf. Betting on golf features four major golf tournaments a year, with numerous others throughout. The betting markets mentioned above don't pertain to golf, as you'll mostly be wagering on how an individual golfer will finish, including outright winner, top five, top 10, top 15, and more.
  • Soccer Betting There are numerous soccer leagues internationally to wager on. In Virginia, fans of the sport may look forward to betting on DC United. For soccer, you'll have some of the betting markets mentioned above, but with draws being possible and more frequent than other sports, that's factored in, leaving point spreads a bit predictable at 0.5 goals.
  • College Sports Betting Betting on college sports can sometimes be as popular as professional sports given that many college teams have followings that rival pro teams. In Virginia, however, there are restrictions on college betting. For instance, you cannot place bets on in-state colleges like the University of Virginia, Old Dominion University or Virginia Tech unless they are playing in a tournament such as March Madness.

How to Use Virginia Sportsbook Promos

If you've found a sportsbook that you want to bet with in Virginia, there's a solid chance that that brand also provides great sports betting promotions. With promos, there are typically three ways in which they can be redeemed. 

  • Naturally: As you follow the terms and conditions, such as making a minimum deposit or following minimum odds guidelines, you'll receive the offer.
  • Opt-In: Simply go to the promotions page while logged into your account, open the page dedicated to that offer, click opt-in, then follow the terms and conditions.
  • Promo Code: If a promo code is required, read the terms and conditions to see if you use it during registration or your first deposit. If during registration, there will be a field for you to add it there. If it's on your first deposit, there will be a field to do so on the deposit page.

Do I Need to Use Virginia Sportsbook Promos?

Using sportsbook promos is like grabbing a deal at a Norfolk market – not mandatory, but it can add value to your experience. These promos often provide bonuses or risk-free bets.

Tips for Betting on Sports in Virginia

Sports betting has been around for some time in Virginia, so it helps to have some tips to follow in order to be helpful. 

Shop Around 

It's highly recommended that you shop for odds. The concept is actually quite simple – just look for the sportsbook that offers the best odds for what you want to bet on. 

For example, if you think the Commanders will win their next game, compare the moneyline odds between each legal site in Virginia to see where you get the most value.

Set a Limit 

This typically goes without saying, but never bet more than you can afford to lose. With sports betting, it's inevitable that you're going to lose money, so it's imperative to set a betting limit. 

Betting on sports is a form of entertainment, so we recommend that you set a bankroll/budget and stick to it. There are common ways to set a limit, including creating a "unit," which is the amount of you wager per bet. A perfect example of this could be if you have a bankroll of $100 and never wager more than $10, or 10%, of your budget—betting your entire bankroll isn't advisable. You can gradually increase over time, but that could be a limit you set on your bankroll out of the gate.

Understand Home-Field Advantage 

Having a home field advantage isn't only important to sporting teams, but it also has a real impact on sports betting odds as well. For example, you could see the home team for any contest being favored by a point spread of -2.5 to -3 even if the teams would otherwise be at even odds. 

Essentially, a team playing in front of their fans typically has a better shot at winning than a team playing on the road. 

Monitor Line Movement

Depending on the sport you want to bet on, there may be time leading up to each game. For sports like the NBA, NHL, or MLB, where there are games every day, there's a bit less time to monitor lines, but for the NFL, this works better.

The betting line and odds in the NFL will come out almost a week before the following games, allowing for plenty of line movement as injury and practice reports emerge.

An excellent tip for line movement involves the point spread. If you notice a team is -4.5 and has odds of -120, this -120, which is 10 points higher than the standard -110, could indicate a potential change in the point spread to -5 and back to the -110 odds.

Terms apply for all bonuses. Must be 21+ to participate.  
Deposit required. Paid in Bonus Bets. Bets wager excluded from returns. New Customer only. Must be 21+ and Present in VA. T&Cs apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

Start Betting on Sports in Virginia

Sports betting in Virginia is more than just placing wagers; it's about being part of a community that shares a love for sports and local teams. By understanding the basics of betting and embracing the local sports culture, you can enhance your experience and enjoy the excitement of sports betting in the Old Dominion. 

Now that you're equipped with local knowledge and an understanding of sports betting, it's time to dive in. Remember, bet responsibly and enjoy the thrill of the game, Virginia style!

How To Bet On Sports In Virginia FAQs

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The experts at BetVirginia who bring you the latest updates in Virginia sports betting. We pull together decades of experience to give you analysis as well as comparisons of the best VA online gambling apps.

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