Virginia Becomes Second State To Legalize Sports Betting In 2020

  • Virginia is now the second state to legalize sports betting in 2020, after Washington.
  • New sports betting legislation goes into effect beginning July 1.
  • The Virginia Lottery Board can grant as many as 12 total sports betting licenses and must approve at least four of these licenses by September 15.
  • Virginia also passed another bill that will allow for five casinos to be built throughout the state, all of which will be eligible to apply for one of the 12 sports betting licenses.
  • The first sports wagers could be accepted in Virginia as early as late 2020 or early 2021.

RICHMOND, Va.Virginia has officially become the second state to legalize sports betting in the year 2020, after Washington. The enacted legislation will go into effect beginning on July 1.

Legal sports betting in Virginia was finalized after the legislature voted to adopt recommendations given by Governor Ralph Northam for SB 384 and HB 896.

The most notable of Northam’s recommendations were the inclusion of NASCAR as an organization that can operate a live sportsbook at any of its game-day venues in the state, as well as a $50,000 background check fee on all principals—or 5% stakeholders—of any company with a sports betting license.

The bill legalizes both retail and online betting.

When Will Virginia Sports Betting Go Live?

The legislation goes into effect on July 1, but after that, it will take at least several months for the state to approve licenses and for the licensees to set up the infrastructure needed for a full launch.

The time from legislative approval to launch varies from state to state, taking as little as three months in some states and over a year in others. Virginia’s set-up times will likely be on the shorter side, as the state has already approved regulations on licensing and taxation.

The Virginia Lottery Board must approve licenses by September 15, so if all goes well, Virginia could see its first sportsbooks go live in late 2020 or early 2021. It is unclear how, or if, the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic will affect the launch of sports betting.

Where Will Virginia Residents Be Able To Bet?

The bills allow for 12 total sports betting licenses, and a minimum of four of these licenses must be granted by the September 15 deadline. The first sportsbooks in Virginia will almost certainly be online-only.

Virginia has no retail casinos at this time, but the legislature recently passed HB 4 and SB 36, which would allow the state to license five such facilities.

If all five casinos receive a sports betting license, seven licenses would remain for online operators. Major national sports betting companies like DraftKings and FanDuel are likely candidates for the first online sports betting licenses.

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Any NBA, MLB, NFL or NHL team that relocates to Virginia will also be eligible to apply for a sports betting license, as will Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway—the state’s two NASCAR tracks. Fans at these venues would be able to bet at integrated sportsbooks within each facility.

This provision of the bill could also help the stat lure the Washington Redskins to relocate from Maryland. There are currently no major league sports franchises in Virginia.

Taxes, Fees And Other Regulations For Virginia Sports Betting

Virginia will tax sports betting revenue at 15%. Sportsbooks will also be required to pay a $250,000 fee for a three-year license and a $200,000 fee to renew that license.

The most controversial addition to the sports betting legislation was the aforementioned $50,000 background check fee, which could cost operators a maximum of $1 million. Most operators likely don’t have a full complement of 20 principals, however, so the actual costs of this fee will be considerably lower.

While these fees look expensive on paper, they are considerably cheaper than those of states like Illinois and Pennsylvania, which boast sports betting licensing fees of several million dollars each.

Virginia will also collect a 4% tax on all annual gambling winnings above $5,000.

Finally, Virginia bettors will not be allowed to bet on sporting events involving in-state college teams. This only applies to individual games involving said teams, so March Madness betting will still be in play for all games not involving a team from Virginia.

There are 14 Division I basketball programs in Virginia, and four FBS Division I football programs.