What We Learned From 1st Virginia Mobile Sports Betting Report

What We Learned From 1st Virginia Mobile Sports Betting Report

The first financial report since the launch of online sports betting in Virginia was released by the Lottery Board earlier this month.

Finances are reported to the board by the 20th of each month. January was the first report, with operators being granted licenses in the state during the month.

Mobile sports betting went live in Virginia on Jan. 21 with the launch of Betfair Interactive, LLC (FanDuel). Since then, Crown Virginia Gaming, LLC (DraftKings); BetMGM Sportsbook; and Portsmouth Gaming Holdings, LLC (Rivers Casino Portsmouth) launched in Virginia, with Caesars Virginia, LLC choosing to begin in February.

What we know: Virginia likes to bet on sports. And there’s nowhere to go but up.

Pony Up

In the first month, $59.6 million was wagered in the first 11 days of mobile sports betting, with four operators.

Compare that to Tennessee and Michigan.

Michigan, which also launched online sports betting in January, had a total handle of $115.2 million in 10 days, but with more than double the operators as Virginia. Tennessee, which launched in November 2020, reported a $27.4 million handle in its first full week. It started with four operators.

Virginia sports betting collected about $40,000 in taxes in that 11-day span, according to the report.

Room to Grow

Virginia sports betting is only going to grow. A bill is on Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk for his signature to allow for more operators. The bill, passed by the state House and Senate, clarifies that 12 licenses be available to online sports betting operators and not conflict with licenses for casinos, which must be approved by city-specific votes.

The Lottery Board received 25 applications for the 12 mobile betting licenses in October, deputy director Gina Smith said at February’s board meeting. More operators are expected to come online soon.

Looking Ahead

In addition to the licenses, the bill passed by the General Assembly awaiting Northam’s signature also will allow for betting on Olympic sports (not allowed the current legislation, as it falls under youth sports). With the Summer Games in Tokyo beginning in July, soon after the new legislation goes into effect, sportsbooks should find themselves with a bump in betting.

March Madness also is set to begin, though it is illegal to wager on Virginia college sports teams under current legislation.

Casino Boost

Virginia casinos are still to come. Applications open in April, and four cities have approved brick-and-mortar resorts in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth. At least six proposals were submitted to Richmond, the fifth potential casino city in Virginia, and it goes to referendum in November. At least two casinos are expected to have in-house sportsbooks, including in Danville at Caesars Virginia. Caesars, operated by William Hill, already has a license for online sports betting in the commonwealth.

Currently, there are no retail sportsbooks in Virginia.



Andi Petrini is a Virginia-based freelance journalist for BetVirginia.com. She has nearly 20 years of experience in newsrooms in Virginia and North Carolina, and has been a team editor for sports, news and features. She also led the internship program at the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), and was a member of Associated Press Sports Editors.

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