Virginia Lottery officials said Wednesday that more sports betting operators are expected to come online soon, which would join the five approved operators that went live nearly two weeks after the market became legal in the state.
Legislation to allow online sports betting in Virginia passed the General Assembly last spring and the first operator, FanDuel, was approved and came online on January 20. During its online virtual meeting Wednesday, the Virginia Lottery Board heard updates on the process from lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall and Deputy Director for Gaming Compliance Gina Smith, as reported by the Bristol Herald Courier.
“The legislation that authorized legal sports betting in Virginia took effect last July 1. Within two months, we came to the board for your review and approval of comprehensive written regulations,” Hall said. “Two months after that, we began accepting applications for mobile sports betting licenses and today — seven months after sports betting became legal in Virginia — we have several qualified and licensed sportsbooks that are competing in Virginia under responsible regulatory framework that has some strong consumer protections. We are less than two weeks into this brave new world.”
The state received an “overwhelming” 25 applications for 12 available permits — which doesn’t include certain sports teams — during a two-week period in October, Smith said. Between Jan. 20-27, the state issued permits for two approved casino operators — Portsmouth Gaming Holdings LLC, which is slated to operate the Rivers Casino Portsmouth, and Caesars Virginia LLC, which is scheduled to operate a casino in Danville.
The state also issued three temporary permits for FanDuel, in conjunction with the NFL Washington Football Team; Crown Virginia Gaming, LLC, also known as DraftKings; and BetMGM LLC.
FanDuel began taking bets Jan. 20; DraftKings began Jan. 24; BetMGM and Rivers Casino Portsmouth each began taking bets Jan. 27; and Caesars Virginia went live with William Hill US on Wednesday, Smith said.
The sports betting law allows all approved Virginia casino operators to have a license. Hard Rock International, which is to operate the Bristol casino, has submitted its sportsbook application.
“In addition to approving operators, we have worked with other operators to prepare them to go live,” Smith said. “The go-live process includes more than background investigations. It includes a review of internal controls, sports betting title laws, terms and conditions, bonds and insurance and systems certification. We’re currently working on this with several additional operators and we should be in a position to go live within the next couple of weeks.”
The first financial reports for sports betting are due Feb. 20. Smith predicted it will take time for the market to “settle down” because initial marketing efforts are “much larger” and those expenses can be deducted to revenues, so it will likely take several months to learn what kinds of tax revenues to expect.