Virginia quickest ever to $1 billion in sports wagering even as bets fall in May
Virginia is now the quickest state to reach $1 billion in sports bets, reaching the milestone even as wagers fell month-over-month for the second consecutive month.
With $1.1 billion in wagers in a little more than four full months after launching, the record is the latest sign of how successful the launch of sports betting has been for the Commonwealth, according to PlayVirginia, which tracks the state’s gaming market.
“The launch of sports betting in Virginia has gone about as smoothly as could have been expected,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayVirginia. “Launching just in time for the Super Bowl got the market off on the right foot. But the state’s sportsbooks still reached the $1 billion milestone mostly without the benefit of football and during two months when sports betting typically slows. That makes the record all the more impressive.”
Virginia bettors placed $227.0 million in wagers in May, down from $236.4 million in April, according to data released Thursday by The Virginia Lottery. That equates to $7.3 million in wagers poured in each day over the 31 days of May, down from $7.9 million per day over the 30 days in April.
Virginia launched sports betting on Jan. 21, breaking Tennessee’s record of hitting the $1 billion mark in its sixth month of sports betting.
May’s 4 percent decline in wagering is in line with what most major U.S. sports betting markets have done in April and May, historically two of the slowest sports betting months of the year. Of the Top 10 U.S. markets that have reported May data, Virginia’s month-over-month decrease in wagering was greater than New Jersey (up 8.9 percent), Indiana (up 7.6 percent), Colorado (up 1.9 percent), and Iowa (down 2.9 percent), but shallower than Michigan (down 6.0 percent), Tennessee (down 6.7 percent), and Pennsylvania (down 6.7 percent). Virginia’s handle did drop 22.1 percent in April, but all of the nation’s 10 largest markets saw at least a 13 percent decline in betting from March to April and as high as 30.5 percent.
“The state’s best month came in March, exacerbating the slowdown, but Virginia is managing the offseason about as well as a young market could hope,” said Dann Stupp, analyst for PlayVirginia.com. “The playoff appearances by the Washington Wizards and Capitals in May were a help. But without a significant local draw over the next few months, sportsbooks will have to be innovative to keep bettors engaged.”
May’s wagers produced $23.2 million in gross gaming revenue, up 19 percent from $19.4 million in April. Adjusted gross revenue rose to $15.7 million from $13.8 million in April, which yielded $2.4 million in state taxes, including $59,527 for problem gambling support. Since launch, sportsbooks have generated $85.0 million in gross gaming revenue and $5.6 million in state taxes.
Sportsbooks will have to wait until the football season begins before they can expect another surge in wagering. And the state missed a minor opportunity to draw interest from Virginia’s appearance in the College World Series with its ban on wagering on in-state college teams. New opportunities will arise this summer, though, including the Olympics and the later-than-usual NBA Playoffs. The launch of Barstool’s app is anticipated before football season, too.
“Virginia’s record-setting start has come in spite of its wagering ban on in-state college teams, which is essentially leaving money on the table,” Stupp said. “Hopefully the ban will eventually be addressed, but even with it Virginia’s young industry remains in excellent overall health.”
For more information and analysis on regulated sports betting in Virginia, visit PlayVirginia.com/news.