Virginia could see the state’s first online sports betting licenses being approved within the next several weeks, the Virginia Lottery revealed, outlining online betting could be live in the state by the upcoming Super Bowl.
Back and Forth Legal Process
Virginia legalized sports betting in April, when Gov. Northam’s amendments to SB384 and HB896 were approved by state lawmakers and became laws. Consequently, the Virginia Lottery, which was tasked by the bills to develop sports betting regulations and rules for the application process for operators, approved the final set of regulations in September.
During the 2-week application process running from October 15 till October 31, the lottery received 25 applications vying for only 12 available licenses, leaving it with the task to decide which one would contribute most to the state as per a number of criteria.
Protection for Everyone is the Priority
Kevin Hall, the executive director of the Virginia Lottery, who noted by that time that the review process would focus on protection for “consumers, athletes and taxpayers”, now told 13NewsNow that the lottery is targeting the Super Bowl, knowing its importance on the sports calendar and seeking “to launch with a bang”.
“The priority is here in Virginia, sports betting is offered in a safe and responsible way. Strong consumer protections, guardrails that prevent underage gambling, procedures, and audits to make sure there’s no criminal activity like money laundering or tax evasion.”
Kevin Hall, Executive Director, Virginia Lottery
Learn from the Experience of Others
Hall outlined that other states successfully implemented such measures and all Virginia needed to do is learn from the experience of others. After all, online sports wagering in the state has been running on for years and the legalization would now place it within a regulatory framework of requirements such as age and identity verification, as well as allocate resources to deal with gambling addiction.
While providing scarce details about individual candidates to operate mobile wagering, Hall confirmed to the media that newly-approved by the November 3 Referendum casinos in Portsmouth and Norfolk also submitted applications for mobile sports wagering.
The lottery executive director also noted the state could well go beyond the 12 licenses as the law grants preference to professional sports organizations with a home in Virginia, allowing for applications submitted by the Washington NFL football team, the D.C. United soccer franchise and NASCAR to be approved in addition to the predefined number of licenses.
Revenue-wise, Kevin Hall pointed to estimates showing as much as $5 million in tax revenue for the first year of operation, which would subsequently double each year, to eventually reach $50 million after 4 or 5 years, when all 12 mobile operator licenses are filled.
Sports wagering in Virginia will allow placing pre-game and in-play bets on professional sports, as well as pre-game betting on collegiate sport events which do not involve teams from the state, but would not allow bets on the Olympics.