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Virginia sports betting: How far are we away from it?

Virginia has long been a state against the idea of gambling, but as the industry has grown astronomically over the years, it’s got to the point where the state could be ready to welcome it for the very first time.

Since the online betting USA bill was passed, more and more states are joining the party by allowing it, including neighbours West Virginia.

Both online and offline sports betting is now allowed in the state and that could well progress for Virginia during 2019.

It’s a huge market with a wide range of bookmakers and casinos now being regulated across the eight states where sports betting is legalized and it’s bringing in huge revenue for them.

That’s turning the heads of many state governors, including Virginia, with a committee passing a bill earlier this year.

This means that referendums will now be held in a number of cities across the state, including Norfolk, Danville, Bristol, Richmond and Portsmouth.

However, this is just the beginning on a long journey ahead. Firstly, the referendums must fall in the favour of sports betting to get the go-ahead, and even then it must go up against government figures.

One man who isn’t convinced is Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam.

He’s previously said he’d be against gambling being legal in the state, with large-scale studies required before he puts his signature to anything.

Financial Secretary, Aubrey Layne is also less than convinced, however does understand how beneficial it would be to state coffers. She said, “I’m not saying the governor will be for it or against it — but it’s not a study. It’s a big decision. The General Assembly ought to understand we have significant issues to deal with.”

That suggests that any progress that is made will be done slowly and carefully, not throwing themselves into the bill and reaping the financial rewards.

Should that be agreed, any casino measure would then go before a public vote and ultimately mean no casino or type of betting would arrive in the state until at least mid-2020.

What’s more, the political situation in Virginia would also slow things down as it is largely an impassable environment due to the fallout, particularly with matters that are already causing such debate.

For those that have already passed the bill, record breaking months are being welcomed in the early stages of 2019.

New Jersey saw record numbers in sports betting revenue in January, even out-performing Nevada, while casino revenue is also up 20% in the early stages on 2019.

Like dozens of other states, legalizing betting and, in particular, sports betting over the coming year is going to be one of the major debates, and will undoubtedly lead to extra revenue through tax coming into the state. Whether it’s the right move for the state’s residents, that’s where the questions are being asked.