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Experts Expect Legal Sports Bets to Start in Virginia in 2021

Sports bettors in the state of Virginia will likely have to wait until 2021 before they can begin placing bets. There was some hope that the industry would launch in December 2020, but the lottery director does not believe that to be the case.

Virginia lawmakers legalized sports betting back in April, and the new law went into effect on July 1. Even though sports betting is now legal in the state, there aren’t any operators approved to take bets.

The Virginia Lottery is the governing body over the new industry, and they have been working hard to get things up and running. The coronavirus pandemic delayed some of the scheduled meetings, but the Lottery is expected to make some major announcements soon.

Kevin Hall, Virginia Lottery Executive Director, announced that his group has been working as quickly as possible, and more information will be released soon. The group is scheduled to meet on July 15, and they will be rolling out some of the new regulations that will guide the industry.

State law requires that a period of 60 days pass before an official vote can be taken, which means the next major announcement won’t come until mid-September. This will leave very little time for operators to begin submitting applications in hopes of obtaining a license in 2020.

The Lottery will not only announce the proposed regulations on July 15, but these will also be posted on the company’s website. The regulations will be open for public comment for a span of 30 days.

After the regulations are approved by Sept. 15, the regulations will then need to be published in the Virginia Register. This will likely take close to a month, which will push the date back into October.

Operators will then have 90 days to submit applications to the Virginia Lottery, and the commission will begin reviewing each of them. The first sports betting licenses are expected to be handed out in either January or February, and betting will likely begin almost immediately.

How Many Operators are Allowed?

The biggest question surrounding the new Virginia sports betting industry is how many licenses will be allowed. The Lottery has announced that they will award a minimum of 11 and a maximum of 14 mobile sports betting licenses.

There are several exceptions that are included in this regulation, and that could ultimately shift the number of licenses that are awarded. Physical sportsbooks will be available at professional sports stadiums and casinos in the state.

There is a chance that mobile-only operators could be awarded a license in the state, and those will likely be gobbled up by some of the biggest names in the sports betting industry.

The expanded gaming laws call for the building of five casinos throughout the state. These casino projects still need voter approval, and that could affect the number of licenses that are ultimately available.

Expect a busy few months for the Virginia Lottery as they work to get sports betting up and running.

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