Virginia has become the second state to legalize online sports betting in 2020, following Washington. Two bills became law last week in Virginia that helped bring legal sports betting to the Old Dominion. Although Virginia didn’t legalize sports betting until over a month after Washington, it is likely that Virginia residents will be placing legal bets before Washington residents.
Two Bills Bring Legal Sports Betting to Virginia
While Washington is still having some major issues about sports betting in its state that could cause serious delays, Virginia is looking to get sports betting up and running as quickly as possible. There were two bills that passed in Virginia that legalized sports betting, House Bill 896 and Senate Bill 384. Both bills will officially go into effect on July 1st.
Key Aspects of Legal Sports Betting in Virginia
It wasn’t exactly an easy road for Virginia to finally end up legalizing sports betting. After a number of failed attempts in previous years, Governor Ralph Northam finally helped Virginia get over the hurdle. Once Northam received both bills, he sent them both back to the state legislature with his own recommendations. It didn’t take too long for both chambers to agree to Northam’s changes and help push the bills along. One of Northam’s biggest changes was adding in a $50,000 background checking fee for sports betting operator’s major employees. The Virginia Lottery Board is tasked with determining what exactly qualifies as a major employee.
Under the new sports betting laws in Virginia, teams that are part of the four major sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) and located in Virginia can apply for a sports betting license. One of the biggest reasons this was added into the bill was to try and attract the Washington Redskins to relocate to Virginia. Another addition that Governor Northam added was to include NASCAR tracks into the bill. Lawmakers approved this and now the state’s two major racetracks (Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway) can apply for a sports betting license as well.
Under the bills that passed, Virginia will be requiring a $250,000 licensing fee. Not only is that a reasonable price but unlike other states, that $250,000 is an annual fee. Instead, that fee will be good for a three-year window, essentially boiling down to just over $83,000 a year average.
Sports betting revenue will be taxed at 15 percent, which is more on the higher side. The good news for Virginia bettors is that mobile sports betting is also legalized. This is a big win for Virginia as it has been clear across the country that mobile betting is the prefered betting method from the majority of sports bettors. Without online betting, states are hindering revenue. With the current Coronavirus situation, it is also important to have mobile betting as it is unknown how long casinos will be closed or limiting the number of people inside.
Another interesting part of these bills calls for casino expansion in Virginia. Five cities are now eligible to build new casinos (Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond).
On the less popular side, Virginia will also require the use of official league data for live-betting purposes. Betting on in-state college teams is not permitted.
When Will Legal Sports Betting Being in Virginia?
July 1st is the earliest the bills can go into effect. However, don’t expect to be placing legal bets in Virginia then. It is unlikely that sports betting will begin that early in Virginia but it may not be too long afterwards before bettors are placing their legal wagers.
The Virginia Lottery Board is responsible for overseeing legal sports betting in Virginia and they have a deadline to come up with rules and regulations. That deadline is set on September 15th. This gives Virginia a reasonable expectation to have sports betting launched sometime in 2020. Assuming the 2020 NFL season goes on as scheduled, Virginia bettors should be placing legal wagers by the start of the NFL playoffs at the latest. A best-case scenario would see Virginia residents betting on Week 1 of the NFL season in early September.