State lawmakers aren’t afraid to make changes to Virginia sports betting laws if the adjustments bring more revenue and make sense for sports bettors.
Bills introduced in the last month would allow wagering on in-state colleges, which is currently banned under the law, require sportsbook operators to include promotions and other bonuses as taxable revenue and penalize operators for using the state name in advertisements.
It’s not the first time lawmakers have sought to make changes.
Just months after the Virginia sports betting market launched in January 2021, legislation was signed by Gov. Ralph Northam that allowed for more sportsbook licenses and for betting on the Olympics. Both were left out of the original bill, and lawmakers had pledged to correct the oversights.
During the 2021 legislative session, HB 1847 was sponsored by Del. Mark Sickles and SB 1254 was sponsored by Sen. Jeremy McPike. The legislation separated mobile sportsbooks’ operator licenses from casino licenses — which had fallen into the same category.
There could be 18 sportsbooks or more in the state based on the law that went into effect July 1, 2021. Twelve operator licenses were approved in the original legislation in 2020. There could be 19 sportsbooks operating in the future.
The 2021 law also allows for sports betting on Olympic sports, which had been classified under youth sports in the original law and could not be bet on.
In-State College Betting?
Virginia Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg introduced HB 1127 on Jan. 12. It would permit betting on in-state college teams. There is a companion bill in the Senate (SB 576). On Wednesday, the Senate bill was assigned to Senate General Laws and Technology Sub-Committee: Gaming.
According to the summary of HB1127, it “allows betting, with the exception of proposition betting, on Virginia college sports. Under current law, betting other than proposition betting is allowed on all college sports except Virginia college sports.”
On the same day it was introduced it was referred to the House Committee on General Laws. On Wednesday, it was assigned to Subcommittee No. 3.
Other states have bans on betting on in-state college teams, including New Jersey and New York. New Jersey tried to change that, but voters did not approve it in November.
Operators Could Lose Promo Deductions
Sickles introduced the promotions bill, HB 1103, on Jan. 12, also. It “prohibits sports betting operators from excluding bonuses and promotions from taxable revenue after the first 12 months of wagering activity. The bill also eliminates the ability of sports betting permit holders, when calculating taxable revenue, to carry over losses on a monthly basis,” according to the summary of the bill.
It also was referred to the House Committee on General Laws on Jan. 12. On Wednesday, it was assigned to Subcommittee No. 3.
There has been a lot of debate in states with legal sports betting about deducting promotions, and there could be more legislation like HB1103 in other legal sports betting states.
Penalty for State Name Usage
SB 96, introduced in early January, “prohibits sports betting and casino gaming operators and their affiliates from using the name of Virginia or the Commonwealth in an advertisement in association with their products or services,” according to the summary of the bill. A violation is subject to a civil penalty of up to $50,000.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. On Wednesday it was assigned to the General Laws and Technology subcommittee on gaming.
VA Sports Betting Thriving
Virginia posted a sports betting handle of $402.6 million in November, the second-biggest month after October’s $427.3 million.
Without December figures, which will be released on or around Feb. 1, Virginia saw more than $2.7 billion wagered in the state in 2021 from its January launch.
Virginia celebrated its one-year anniversary of launching sports betting on Jan. 21. FanDuel Virginia was the first to launch on Jan. 21, 2021, and has been the market leader over the year.
The Virginia Lottery Board approved 13 sports betting licenses over the first year and 11 of them launched in 2021. The market is currently all-online, but should have retail sportsbooks when casinos open, likely next year.
Taxes from sports betting have helped boost the state’s General Fund and Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund.