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Virginia Approves Sports Gambling

May 6, 2020

As the sports world lies dormant due to the COVID19 pandemic, some US state legislators are still busy working on sports betting legislation for its residents. It looks like Virginia legislators have successfully crossed the sports betting legalization finish line.

With little time remaining to get sports betting legislation to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam, several Virginia bills were fiercely debated to come up with one the House, Senate, and governor could agree on. In the end, it was two pieces of legislation, HB 896 and SB 384, that would rule the day. At the end of April, Gov. Northam penned his name to both bills.

What is Known About These Two Pieces of Legislation

Both of these pieces of legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2020. While an opening date for sports betting in Virginia is unsettled at this time, the Virginia Lottery Board must complete regulations by Sept. 15 and will be working on receiving/approving licensing applications.

Financial terms: Prospective bookmakers must complete an application and submit it with an application fee of $250,000. In addition, bookmakers will be required to pay a revenue tax of 15% into the state's financial coffers. Tax revenue funds have not been specifically earmarked.

Based on the legislation, the Virginia Lottery Board will have the ability to issue up to 12 instate bookmaking licenses with preference going to the state's five land-based casino operations. There is also a provision that would grant licenses to any professional sports organization that might reside or relocate to Virginia. This provision was clearly a play to draw the Washington Redskins into Virginia in the coming years. This provision would also open the door to Martinsville Speedway and Richmond Raceway being able to accept regulated bets.

As for wagering options, Virginia sports bettors will be permitted to bet on sports being played in the US and most other areas of the world. At this point, bettors will not be permitted to bet on Virginia college sports teams, including college sports prop bets. Unfortunately, there are no provisions within these bills to legalize online sports betting or casino gambling.

With the passing of these bills, Virginia becomes the 22nd state to legalize sports betting since the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on such activities in May of 2018. With a Sept. 15 deadline for regulations to be in place, it does not seem reasonable sports betting will be in place by the start of the 2020 NFL season.


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