Virginia’s online sports wagering landscape is set to expand soon and by the time that expansion plays out, the state will at least double its current roster of six operators. Further details of what Virginians can expect in sports gaming were discussed at a Virginia Lottery Board meeting Wednesday.
Right now, there are six sports wagering operators in Virginia; online sports betting went live there in January 2021. Within months that lineup should grow by half with three more online sportsbooks that were approved March 15. And in May, gaming regulators will begin taking applications for the remaining outstanding sports betting licenses.
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Initially, the Virginia legislature approved 12 sports wagering licenses but then allowed for that number to be effectively increased in saying that sports wagering licensing for the state’s planned five casinos would not count against the original number. The bill has been signed into law by the governor and goes into effect on July 1.
Current operators are FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars, Rivers and Wynn. Already approved but not yet running are Golden Nugget, Barstool Sports and Bally’s. However, some of the current or approved licensees are also affiliated with casinos and as a result, do not count against the 12 available licenses for standalone online operators.
Gina Smith, deputy director of gaming compliance at the Virginia Lottery, said about Golden Nugget, Bally’s and Barstool: “These three are still working in finalizing some of their system requirements and getting us final documents, and we hope they’ll be up and running in the next couple of months.”
Smith also said that applications for the anticipated five available licenses will be accepted May 15-31 and that discussions with interested operators have been ongoing.
FanDuel Early Leader in VA
Regarding current operators, FanDuel has been the dominant sportsbook with 53% of the market and DraftKings a distant second with 24%. They were followed in order by: BetMGM, Caesars, Rivers and Wynn.
Total handle since the start of online sports wagering in Virginia has been $628 million. Operators have given away $30 million in promotions. And the commonwealth has collected $1.5 million in taxes. The next detailed financial report is expected around May. 1.
As far as the five casinos, which are planned around the commonwealth, Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall went to lengths in explaining the time-consuming process of investigating and vetting applicants, executives and even vendors and some employees. One point was that it would be “next to impossible” (in Hall’s words) that a casino — even if it were to try to operate with a temporary facility — could open in 2021.