The Virginia Senate overwhelming passed a proposed bill that would prohibit gaming businesses from using a specific phrase in advertising, “Virginia is for Bettors.”
The vote in the state Senate Tuesday on the Virginia sports betting bill was 40-0.
Prior versions of the bill, SB96 – which was initially prefiled in January -- were much broader in the verbiage that was targeted, namely the use of the name “Virginia” or “the Commonwealth” by a gaming business in advertising.
The newly worded bill the state senate approved Feb. 8 was more specific in stating that usage of the phrase "Virginia is for Bettors" is prohibited to be used by a gaming business in “an advertisement in association with its product or service.”
The penalty for a violation would be $50,000.
The bill now moves to the House, where it must pass with the same wording before being sent to the governor for consideration.
Virginia Tourism Slogan
Virginia has had a well-known tourism slogan for decades, “Virginia is for Lovers.” The familiar slogan also appears on some state license plates.
For transparency and full disclosure, this company has a website and an attached web domain of VirginiaIsForBettors.com. The phrase has also appeared on the website.
The parent company of VirginiaIsForBettors.com, the Gambling.com Group, is publicly traded on the NASDAQ and by self-description is “a media company and does not offer actual gambling services but helps online sportsbooks and casino operators acquire players.” It is licensed to do so in Virginia.
When the original, more broadly worded bill was passed last week in the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology by a 13-0 vote, Gambling.com Group issued a statement saying: “Virginia’s state legislature made it clear that Virginia is for bettors when they legalized sports betting in April 2020 with a strong regulatory regime that offered consumers a choice of online sportsbooks. We will of course respect the will of Virginia's lawmakers.”
VA Sports Betting Numbers
In December, the commonwealth’s 11 licensed online operators reported a total handle of about $427 million. Since launching in January 2021, more than $3.2 billion was wagered in the state through the end of the year.
The state will likely release January numbers around March 1. Those should also be strong and February could be even better with Super Bowl betting.