The state of Virginia is now the second state to legalize sports betting in 2020, and there is a chance that the industry could be launched later this year. It wasn’t always a smooth and easy process, but state lawmakers were eventually able to pass a pair of bills to create the industry.
Washington became the first state to legalize sports betting in 2020 when Governor Jay Inslee signed a sports betting bill into law. There is still some debate about the sports betting laws in Washington, and it could be a long time before the industry is eventually launched.
In Virginia, House Bill 896 and Senate Bill 384 both became law earlier this week, and they will go into effect on July 1. Governor Ralph Northam had sent both bills back to the state legislature with recommendations earlier this month. After some debate, both bodies of the state legislature voted to approve the changes.
The Virginia Lottery Board was put in charge of the new sports betting industry, and they are required to come up with regulations no later than Sept. 15. If these regulations are in place before that time, there is a belief from lawmakers that the industry will go live later this year.
One of the major recommendations that Northam attached to these bills was a $50,000 fee to cover background checks for principal members of sports betting operators. Some sports betting operators have more than 20 employees that would fall under the category as principal.
The Virginia Lottery Board will be tasked with coming up with a better definition of a principal employee in hopes of limiting the amount of the fees that a sports betting operator must pay. Operators are unlikely to submit an application for a license if they are forced to pay close to $1 million for a background check.
The sports betting bill allows for teams from the NBA, MLB, NHL, or NFL that are located in Virginia or relocate to Virginia to be able to apply for a sports betting license. This was done in an effort to get the Washington Redskins to relocate to the state when building a new stadium.
Governor Northam also wanted NASCAR tracks to be included in this bill, and lawmakers voted to approve this change. This will allow both the Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway to either apply for their own sports betting license or partner with another operator.
Sportsbooks will be forced to pay a $250,000 licensing fee, and those licenses will be good for three years. All of the sports betting revenue will be taxed at a rate of 15 percent.
There are five cities in the state that can build a new casino, and each city had to meet select criteria. The five cities that can build a casino are Norfolk, Bristol, Richmond, Danville, and Portsmouth. Each city can begin taking bids from casino companies, and several have already started the process.