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Virginia opens doors to legal sports betting

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A new era of sports betting is coming to Virginia as the state is continuing to open doors to legal online gambling. Following recent regulatory amendments, legal online sports wagering will be available during 2021.

While neighboring West Virginia has already legalized online sports betting, Virginia has taken a more cautious approach. However, with the new regulations, customers in the states will be able to wager legally online.

Sports betting and online casinos are becoming increasingly popular forms of entertainment, with venues like NetBet Sport enjoyed by millions. New regulations enacted by the Virginia Lottery Board will bring legal online sports betting before spring 2021.

According to the changes, new license applications are open between October 15 and 31, with the approval process running for 90 days. During this window, applicants will find out if they are accepted or not.

Up to 12 sports betting licenses are available, although the board says as few of four could ultimately be approved. All applicants must show their experience in offering wagering products and have a proven track record in other markets in the country. Other requirements include a history of adhering to gambling laws and an ability to detect “suspicious or illegal gambling activity.”

Let’s be clear, the Lottery Board is not necessarily looking to do any casinos or sportsbooks a favor. Instead, applicants will be assessed on the revenue they can generate, including in taxes paid to the state. According to the board, all applications must show “serious, good faith efforts to solicit and interview a reasonable number of investors that are minority individuals.”

Naturally, there is a chance there will be more applicants than the number of licenses available. If this happens, the Virginia Lottery Board will focus on the applicants that are in the top two-thirds in terms of viability.

All applicants who are given a license must pay an insurance fee, which is $250K up front then an additional $200K nearing the end of the three-year license permit. During this time, successful applicants must also pay 15% tax on all betting revenue.

When online sports betting is up and running, there will be some rules providing a framework for bookmakers. For example, sportsbooks based in Virginia cannot take wagers on games featuring college and university teams, which the Olympic games are also out.

Elsewhere, gamblers will not have access to proposition bets, while in-play betting for college sports is also prohibited.

To make understanding the framework of rules, the Lottery Board will publish a list of authorized bets across sports. Bookies can apply for other types of wagers, but they will only be implemented when a sports league or sport governing body is consulted.

Sportsbook operators did gain some small wins before the finalization of the laws. For example, the Lottery Board removed a rule stating successful applicants must submit their marketing plans before rolling out their service. Now, the operator only needs to ensure the Board can access all marketing data when it is available.

Another little win for operators came when the state agreed to remove a rule forcing them to provide real-time data on betting and information on odds calculations.

Story by Maria Taylor