Virginia Legislature Passes Sports Betting Bill

Monday, March 9th, 2020 | Written by James Guill
Virginia Legislature Passes Sports Betting Bill

In February we reported that sports betting was being considered by the Virginia state legislature. Now, a bill is just a Governor’s signature away from being law. On Sunday, HB 896 was passed by both the state House and Senate, opening the way for legalized sports betting in Virginia.

Under the law, both live and online sports betting will be legalized. The bill will also reward pro sports teams to move to Virginia, including the neighboring Washington Redskins.

Sports Betting Legalized By Legislature

Virginia has come a long way in the last few years. A state that many viewed as a longshot to ever regulate live or online gambling is a signature away from regulating sports betting. The Virginia House and Senate passed bill HB 896 on Sunday to regulate sports betting in Virginia.

Under the bill, the Virginia Lottery Board will be responsible for determining who will be licensed. The number of licenses available will be based on the perceived economic need of the state.

To start, sports betting will be online only. The Lottery Board is authorized to award up to 12 online sports betting licenses. A license will cost operators $250,000 and the license will be good for three years. Afterward, they can renew for $200,000. Sports betting revenue will then be taxed at 15%.

Should the live casino bill pass the Virginia Legislature, then live sports betting will be on the horizon. Any live casino that is opened in the future will be allowed to apply for a live sports betting license. They will also be allowed to apply for a sports betting license.

Restrictions on Collegiate Betting

The Virginia Legislature has to negotiate to get this bill passed, and one area where lawmakers had to give ground was collegiate betting. Similar to New Jersey sports betting, Virginia will not allow bets on collegiate games. As such, betting on any contest including a Virginia school will be blocked.

As we stated in the February article, this was somewhat expected. Historically, Virginia has not been a powerhouse for collegiate athletics. UVA holds the only national title in any of the major collegiate sports and Virginia Tech has not been a significant factor in a few years. Collegiate betting would not be the same in Virginia as in other states, so dropping it was something lawmakers could sacrifice to get the bill through.

Next, the bill blocks all forms of prop bets for college sports. It is unclear why lawmakers took this particular stance other than concerns over match-fixing. However, you will only be able to make standard bets on collegiate games. This ban will not be in place for professional sports.

Pro Sports Teams to Get Licenses

An interesting stipulation for the bill is that any professional sports team moving to Virginia will get preferential consideration for an online sports betting license. This was done due to lobbying by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.

Snyder wants to build a new stadium in Northern Virginia and relocate the team there. Giving the team an online sports betting license will sweeten the pot and give the Redskins another reason to move to the state. The same is true for any NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, or MLS team that chooses to move to Virginia.

When Will Sports Betting Go Live in Virginia?

For those itching to signup and place a few bets online, you will have to wait a bit. Online sports betting regulations still have to be drafted and the deadline for doing so is September 15. Afterward, there is a 60-day waiting period before licenses will be issued.

So, the earliest you can expect legalized sports betting in Virginia is November 2020. However, it is likely that the rollout will be slower. Expect it to be the same as the launch of online gambling in Pennsylvania. As such, we predict the launch of sometime in the Spring of 2021.