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Legal Sports Betting In Virginia

Hasan Nabulsi
Virginia Sports Betting

Legal sports betting in Virginia came after years of legislative effort and with a sweeping change in the state’s gambling landscape. 

Not only was sports betting officially legalized on April 29, 2020, but a bill that would legalize the state’s first-ever commercial casinos also passed through the legislature and was put on the November 2020 ballot for residents to vote on. 

With neighboring state West Virginia seeing high amounts of revenue from the activity, along with North Carolina and Washington D.C. having legalized sports betting as well, it was only a matter of time before the Old Dominion joined the mix. 

But the timeline for Virginia took a different path and the exact rules for how the industry will work also differ from neighboring states.  

The most important thing to keep in mind is that online sports betting in Virginia is here and now that voters approved the ballot measure, casino sportsbooks should come in the latter half of 2021.

Virginia Sports Betting Timeline

The legislative journey to achieve legal Virginia sports betting took about two years. Virginia waited until the year after the repeal of PASPA to pass anything at all. But what was passed in 2019 was all contingent on how legislators felt in 2020.

2019

Sports betting in Virginia really started to pick up steam on March 30, 2019, when Governor Ralph Northam signed off on Senate Bill 1126.  

The bill aimed to legalize casinos with sportsbooks in cities that qualify under strict guidelines. The only cities that met those guidelines are Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, Richmond, and Norfolk

Residents of each of these cities would have to have to approve opening a casino in their county during the next election cycle which will be in November of 2020.

In the meantime, the Virginia Lottery Board would spend the rest of 2019 studying the social and financial impact of opening the state’s first casino gambling venues. 

On November 20, 2019, Virginia Rep. Barry D. Knight pre-filed House Bill 4 in the state legislature. This bill was an extension of Senate Bill 1126 and would have to be passed during the 2020 legislative session in order to make the provisions in the previous bill a reality.

2020

Along with House Bill 4, 2020 brought along the introduction of Senate Bill 384 and its identical piece of legislation, House Bill 896

These other two bills shape the rules and laws around sports betting in Virginia. They determined who would regulate the industry, the kind of bets that would be allowed, the tax rate that sports betting operators would have to pay, etc. 

These along with House Bill 4 created a comprehensive gambling package that traveled swiftly through the legislature. 

In the beginning of March 2020, the legislature passed all of these bills and sent them to Governor Northam to approve. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay in the legislative session.

On top of that, Governor Northam requested that the bills include a few amendments before he would sign off on them. 

These amendments included higher application fees and license fees for potential sports betting operators. Another one of those amendments included the ability of NASCAR racetracks in the state to be able to host sportsbooks. 

On April 22, 2020, the legislature approved every one of the Governor’s requests and on April 29, 2020, the bills were effectively signed into law. This made Virginia the second state in 2020 to legalize sports betting.

The bills were officially enacted into law on July 1, 2020. The Virginia Lottery had until September 15, 2020, to draw up the official rules and regulations for the industry. On November 4, 2020, four of the cities that qualified for a casino voted on whether or not they wanted one. 

Portsmouth, Danville, Norfolk, and Bristol all overwhelmingly approved casinos in their counties. Richmond is the last city to vote on the casino measure and that will happen in the spring of 2021. All of those casinos are expected to open retail sportsbooks in Virginia.

2021

The year started out with a bit of a surprise. Before the market even launched, lawmakers were already looking to expand the amount of sports bettors could wager on and expand the number of sportsbooks that could operate in the state.

HB1847 was introduced on January 13 and would push the number of online sports betting operators up from the preset 14 amount. The bill would also clarify language that would ensure betting on the Olympics was legal.

The following week on January 21, FanDuel Sportsbook became the first online sportsbook in Virginia to launch. Other operators joined as the year progressed.

In March, HB1847 passed by the state legislature and was sent to Governor Northam’s desk to sign into law. He is expected to approve the bill any day now.

Where Can You Bet On Sports in Virginia

The five places in which you may be able to find a land-based sportsbook to place a bet include Norfolk, Bristol, Danville, Richmond, and Portsmouth.  

All but Richmond voted to pass the construction of casinos within their counties along with general elections on November 4, 2020. Richmond will have their vote next spring. These casinos will each have the ability to open a sportsbook if they so choose.

The state’s two NASCAR tracks at Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway also might offer sports betting, though licenses for them are not guaranteed. Professional sports stadiums are also able to offer an in-house sportsbook.

While there aren’t any professional sports stadiums currently in the state, the Washington Football Team could move there in the future. 

However, online sports betting in Virginia was also approved in early 2020 which means you can technically be located anywhere in the state and bet on sports. You just have to have a computer or mobile device with an internet connection and you’ll be good to go.

These online sportsbooks are geo-fenced which means although you may be able to view the app in a different state, you will have to be inside VA state lines to put any real money down on an event.

Online Sports Betting Sites in Virginia

Online sports betting sites in Virginia have launched. Before they could, the Virginia Lottery had to finalize regulations by September 15, 2020. 

A total of 12 online sportsbooks are allowed in the state. Any of the five potential casinos can offer only one online sports betting app, leaving seven online sportsbooks on their own. 

As mentioned before, these betting sites are available to use anywhere within the state’s borders. To go along with that, in-person registration is not required at a casino like it is in other states. Instead, you can register to use the platform wherever you are and start betting right away.

There have been online sportsbooks striking deals in the state so it’s easier to predict which ones exactly will choose to do business in Virginia. 

For example, Caesars building a casino also leads bettors to believe that William Hill is coming to.

FanDuel Sportsbook was the first to launch in Virginia having also partnered with the Washington Football Team. But, within just a week, DraftKings, BetMGM, and BetRivers also launched their online sportsbooks. BetRivers will be associated with Rivers Casino Portsmouth set to open in the future. 

Just days before Super Bowl 55, William Hill also launched an online sportsbook in Virginia.  Other online sportsbooks are expected to roll out as time goes along.

Golden Nugget, Bally’s, and Barstool Sportsbook have all been approved by the state Lottery and are expected to launch any day now.

Virginia Sports Betting Rules

The first rule that sports betting operators will have to keep in mind is that they will need to pay $250,000 for a licensing fee. They will also need to pay $50,000 for an FBI background check for any one person that owns more than 5% of the business. 

Once those sportsbooks start accepting bets, they will also need to pay 15% in taxes on any revenue they generate from those bets. 

If Virginia sportsbooks wish to offer live betting, also known as in-game wagering, they will have to use official league data

Furthermore, betting on any collegiate sporting events that take place in the state or betting on any team based in Virginia will not be allowed.

Virginia Sports Betting FAQs

What Is The Legal Age to Bet on Sports in Virginia?

In order to bet on sports in Virginia, bettors must be 21 years old or older.

Do I Have to Report Sports Betting Winnings In Virginia On My Taxes?

Yes, sports betting winnings are treated the same as any gambling winnings.

Can I Bet On The Virginia Cavaliers Or Bet On The Virginia Tech Hokies?

No, you can’t bet on the Cavaliers or bet on the Hokies if you’re using a sports betting site in Virginia. This is no matter where the team is playing. You can bet on college teams and events based outside the state.

Who Regulates Sports Betting in Virginia?

The Virginia Lottery oversees and regulates sports betting in Virginia.

How Much Money Will Virginia Sports Betting Generate?

According to legislators at the time of the bill’s signing, the state of Virginia is estimated to generate $90 million annually in sports betting revenue. About 97.5% will be used for the general fund and 2.5% will be used to treat problem gambling.