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Legal Sports Betting In Virginia

Hasan Nabulsi
Virginia Sports Betting

Updated on May 2, 2020

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 will be put on the November 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 should come sometime in the Fall of 2020 and if voters approve the ballot measure, so will land-based sportsbooks.

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 will officially be enacted into law on July 1, 2020. The Virginia Lottery will have until September 15, 2020, to draw up the official rules and regulations for the industry. On November 4, 2020, the cities that qualify for a casino will vote on whether or not they want one. 

But, online sport betting sites don’t have to be tethered to a casino in order to begin operating in the state. 

Where Can You Bet On Sports in Virginia

Where you can bet on sports in Virginia will largely depend on which cities vote to approve a casino in their territories. The vote will take place along with general elections on November 4, 2020.

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. 

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 Redskins 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 will be 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 yet to launch. Before they can, the Virginia Lottery must 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 will be 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 haven’t been any online sportsbooks striking deals in the state quite yet so it’s hard to say which ones exactly will choose to do business in Virginia. 

But given that the state allows for a competitive marketplace, you can most likely expect players like DraftKings, BetMGM, and PointsBet to compete for customers in the near future.

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.