DraftKings and BetMGM on Sunday morning received approval to launch digital sports betting in Virginia, according to the Virginia Lottery’s website, and DraftKings announced that it had gone live ahead of the NFL’s conference championship games to be played later Sunday. DraftKings became the second live operator in Virginia, after FanDuel launched in partnership with the NFL’s Washington Football Team Thursday afternoon.
DraftKings confirmed that it had been awarded a stand-alone mobile permit in Virginia, and BetMGM was likely awarded the same. Neither has a retail partner in the state. Sources say BetMGM will launch later this week.
“Just in time for Super Bowl LV, we are thrilled to bring the DraftKings sports betting experience to Virginia with an abundance of betting options, for fans,” co-founder Jason Robins said via press release Sunday morning. “With our customer-first approach, we hope to be the sportsbook of choice for Virginians who enjoy having skin in the game.”
For DraftKings, Virginia is the 12th state in which it is offering live, legal, mobile sports betting. And for BetMGM, Virginia is the 10th state. Both companies also went live in Michigan on Friday, in a mass launch of 10 sports wagering platforms in that state.
Virginia has about nine more licenses to award
Virginia has now issued three of approximately a dozen available sports betting operator permits, and none to the three companies tethered to future casinos — Caesars/William Hill, Hard Rock, and Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers).
When FanDuel went live Thursday, the expectation was that it would be the only live platform in Virginia through the weekend. The company got approval ahead of others due its partnership with the Washington NFL Team — any professional sports team with a stadium or headquarters in Virginia is entitled to “substantial and preferred consideration” during the application process. The only other pro sports organization that appears to meet that criteria is Major League Soccer’s DC United, which has an existing partnership with FanDuel after pivoting away from a previous deal with Caesars.
DraftKings was quick to roll out specials for the Virginia launch, including “double your money” for a touchdown in the conference title games, as well as odds boosts for Washington, D.C.-area teams. The NFC title game pits the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Green Bay Packers at 3:05 p.m. ET, followed by the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills to determine the AFC representative at 6:40 p.m. ET.
Other states that could go live in 2021
The lottery also added Kambi, which is partnered with DraftKings, as an approved vendor on Sunday morning.
Virginia lawmakers legalized sports betting on April 22, 2020, and were mandated to approve rules by Sept. 15. The lottery met that aggressive timeline and accepted operator applications between Oct. 15-31. PointsBet and WynnBet are among other operators that have applied for licenses. PointsBet would be seeking a stand-alone mobile license, and WynnBet is hoping for market access via partnerships with Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway, though the lottery said the NASCAR tracks don’t meet the criteria for “substantial and preferred consideration.”
When FanDuel went live on Thursday, Virginia became the first state to launch operators in 2021. Voters legalized sports betting in Louisiana, Maryland, and South Dakota last November, though it’s unclear if any of those states will be able to go live this year — all require significant legislative action and the development of rules before operators could launch. Washington State legalized retail sports betting only last March, and regulators there are aiming to release proposed rules this spring.