Sports betting is now legal and regulated in the state of Virginia. Since the first sportsbooks are likely to show up in the state in January 2021, it’s a good idea to take stock of what’s happening in Old Dominion.
As it turns out, big plans are underway in Virginia with regard to many forms of gambling. Though a gambling expansion in the state was unthinkable historically, the dawn of sports betting across the country has proven too rich an opportunity for Virginia lawmakers to ignore.
You have come to the right place for information about Virginia sports betting. We have all the latest news and information about the upcoming launch, and as new online sportsbooks pop up, we will also have the best bonus offers, too. Read on for all things relevant to online sports betting in Virginia.
Last updated: October 16, 2020
Legalized sports betting appears on its way to Virginia.
Regulators in Old Dominion posted permanent rules for the industry recently and began accepting online applications this week. The application window will extend until the end of October, and paper applications will not be accepted.
The Virginia Lottery will have up to 90 days to approve applications once received. Should the lottery use the entire 90 days, approved operators could launch by Jan. 15.
Virginia regulators have not specified a specific target date for going live with sports betting. It could be they allow operators to roll out sportsbooks once approved, considering the law legalizing sports betting went into effect July 1 and permanent rules are now in place.
Sports betting in Virginia will begin with online sportsbooks, as the state awaits five casinos to be built as approved by law. Additionally, any pro team with headquarters in Virginia can offer sports betting.
|Early 2021||VA sports betting launch|
|Nov. 3||Casino referendum election|
|Oct. 15||Lottery Board begins accepting sports betting applications|
|Sept. 15||Lottery Board publishes regulations|
|Aug. 10||Updated draft regulations released|
|July 15||Temporary regulations issued|
|July 1||Legislation takes effect|
To be sure, the uncertainty surrounding the identities of the first sportsbooks to launch in Virginia is frustrating. You could justifiably be wondering when we’ll know anything more definitive.
Information is expected sometime this month. The Virginia Lottery Board has set Oct. 15 as the day that it will begin accepting applications for licenses, and those will be a big clue about who’s prepping to arrive sooner rather than later.
We also might get a boost of information in early November 2020. On Nov. 3, residents of the five cities in Virginia designated as potential casino locations (Bristol, Danbury, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Richmond) will vote on whether they will allow a gambling facility inside their city limits. Depending on which cities affirm the referendum, we could see another wave of applications hit the desks of lottery officials.
Under state law, there are 12 untethered Virginia sports betting licenses up for grabs. Each casino is also slated to gain a license, and a relocating professional sports team might also be able to pick one up. At full capacity, there could bee as many as 18 online sportsbooks in Virginia, although hitting that maximum is unlikely at any point and impossible in the early days of the market.
Still, with so many licenses up for grabs and a favorable fee ($250,000 for a three-year license) and tax rate (15% on gross revenues), there could be quite a scramble to get licensed as soon as possible. As soon as we have any more information, we will update this page.
Prospective Virginia sportsbook operators are able to apply for licenses starting in October 2020. Since most of the applicants are likely to be experienced bookmakers, it’s not hard to believe that they will be up and running by January 2021. Even if that timeline is a bit optimistic, they will undoubtedly be rushing to launch by the Super Bowl.
However, the exact identity of the operator(s) that will cross the finish line in Virginia first is impossible to know yet. The Virginia law that legalized sports betting and went into effect in July 2020 did not require that operators tether to any current (of which there are none) or future casino operators, so the field is completely open for the 18 potential VA sports betting licenses.
With that said, we can take a guess about some of the operators we expect to be in the first group of launches, if not the actual first to do so. These operators either have launched early in other states, have partnered with casino development entities in Virginia, or both.
Time and again over the past few years, DraftKings Sportsbook has proven itself to be one of the finest and one of the first sportsbooks to launch in multiple states. Between the company’s hunger to expand and its incredibly innovative app, DraftKings has far exceeded the confines of its DFS roots in places like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Colorado. DraftKings has set up shop in every new sports betting state so far, so there’s no reason to assume that Virginia will get left out.
It should come as no surprise that FanDuel Sportsbook is likely to be in the mix. FanDuel, as a company, has been involved in some capacity with betting on sports for more than a decade, and company ownership has been quite forthright about expanding beyond its pioneering work in daily fantasy sports. A quick, intuitive app with loads of great promotions has put FanDuel at the top of several sports betting states. Virginia should be joining that list soon.
Of all the companies to launch early in Virginia, the BetRivers Sportsbook is probably the odds-on favorite to be first. The Rush Street Interactive-owned app already has a deal in place to be the sports betting provider for the potentially soon-to-be-built casino in Portsmouth. Additionally, BetRivers has been first to market or near first to market in several locations, and Virginia’s population means that it is certainly a priority target for the operator. Virginians likely will soon be able to play on a clean, sleek app with one of the only dedicated loyalty programs for sports bettors.
Caesars is a name known to most, even those unfamiliar with gambling. The casino company is one of the largest and most prestigious in the world and has a history stretching back to the early days of Las Vegas and legal gambling in the US. So, needless to say, Caesars Online Sportsbook is well-equipped to provide a smooth sports betting experience to Virginians. The company has also partnered with the casino development effort in Danville, so it’s likely not a question of whether Caesars is coming, but when the launch will occur.
BetMGM is a sportsbook company with a clear pedigree and connection to gambling. It is the online sports betting arm of MGM Resorts International, one of the largest gambling companies in the world. BetMGM has also been at the forefront of launches in several states and has clearly made development of its sports betting business a priority. Though MGM has no tie to Virginia just yet, its presence in Maryland with MGM National Harbor should provide plenty of background support for its debut in Old Dominion.
William Hill Sportsbook is one of the largest bookmakers in both the US and the world at large. The British sportsbook has been active in Nevada since 2013 and has more retail shops than any other sportsbook in that state. The company also has nearly a century of bookmaking experience and has been in the vanguard of early adopters elsewhere in the United States.
There are a couple of other companies that will be part of the Virginia sports betting landscape at some point. Frankly, though, neither one of them has proven itself to be one of the first-to-market powerhouses like the operators above. So, although they bear mention and will likely launch at some point, we’ll have to see what sorts of things they have to offer inhabitants of Old Dominion.
Hard Rock Sportsbook aims to be part of Virginia sports betting in the future. The company has reached terms on an agreement with the casino planners in Bristol, and has already indicated that a sportsbook operation is part of the plan. Hard Rock does have an online sports betting presence in New Jersey, but its results have been middling so far. Perhaps Virginia will serve as a better proving ground for the music-themed company.
The Pamunkey Indian Tribe is one of the first federally recognized Native American tribes to call Virginia home. It was the first tribe to acquire recognition from the US government. As such, it is certainly the most homegrown potential participant in Virginia sports betting. In fact, the tribe has managed to gain the inside track on not one, but two of Virginia’s potential casino sites in Richmond and Norfolk. Whether the tribe will be successful in its quest for both cities remains unclear, but tribe officials, who will be new to sports betting, will have a steep learning curve to negotiate.
Sports betting could be quite an oddity for Virginia residents. Virginia has little history of legal gambling inside state lines beyond betting on horse races and the lottery.
So, if you live in Virginia, it’s unlikely you’ve had much experience with sports betting of any type, much less online sports betting. If you have, you’re ahead of the game. However, it’s understandable if you’re feeling intimidated at the possibility of placing a wager on a sporting event through your computer or mobile device.
As it turns out, betting through your device is largely superior to traveling to a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. There are usually more options for wagering, more flexibility in your betting, and you don’t run the risk of getting into a car accident unless somebody drives through your living room.
Most people will access sports betting apps through their mobile devices. As a general rule, sportsbooks have dedicated apps for Apple (iOS) and Android phones, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble gaining entry into the online sportsbook world.
If you prefer to use a computer, however, that’s probably all right. Many (but not all) sportsbooks also maintain a browser version of their site. These versions are usually designed to optimize for your device’s screen automatically, so there really won’t be a problem with using your laptop or desktop in most cases.
In brief, here are the four steps you’ll need to undertake in order to start with an online sportsbook app:
Without active sportsbooks in Virginia, there cannot be any promotions in the state, obviously. Rest assured, however, that sportsbook bonuses will follow hand-in-hand with sportsbooks in the state.
The fact of the matter is that online sportsbooks are in intense competition with one another at all times, so it is imperative that they introduce and maintain generous bonuses for new and existing players. Otherwise, a simple button press could lose them a customer.
So be on the lookout for deals as the sportsbooks begin to launch in Virginia. Since the market itself will be new, operators will seek to grab as much market share as they can. They will roll out the red carpet for you in order to make that happen.
We talked briefly in earlier sections about using bonus codes to redeem offers and promotions at Virginia sportsbooks. Bonuses are a ubiquitous feature of playing on an online sportsbook because bookmakers are always looking for ways to create a sense of brand loyalty from their customer bases.
However, there is not just one kind of bonus that you might encounter. In fact, there is more than one way a sportsbook might choose to reward you.
We’re going to talk about all the different types of bonuses below. If you just want a brief rundown of what you might find, though, here are the types of bonuses on Virginia sportsbooks:
As you’ll see, not all bonuses are created equal. One of the main differences from one bonus to another is the type of reward you can receive.
If you’ve never downloaded an online sportsbook before, you might be surprised to learn about all the betting options that you have at your disposal. As it turns out, online sportsbooks tend to have more opportunities and flexibility than their retail counterparts.
All of the types of bets that you’d like to make in a live sportsbook are available through your mobile device or computer. There are even some betting types — notably, live betting — that are far more prevalent online. Here are the different types of bets you will encounter:
No pun intended, but betting on horse races in Virginia has become quite a different animal in the past few years. It has gone from a state with almost no racing aside from online horse betting to one with live events and multiple off-track facilities across the land.
First and foremost, you can attend live horse races at Colonial Downs, the sole horse track in operation in Virginia. The track, which was dormant for several years, is now offering live racing on several dates during the summer.
Colonial Downs also owns and operates four off-track locations: Hampton, New Kent, Richmond and Vinton. All four sites and Colonial Downs itself host several thousand historical horse race machines for players to use. These machines, which use data from old horse races to function, are virtually indistinguishable from traditional slot machines in terms of their operation and design.
Virginians can also wager on simulcast horse races through their mobile devices and computers, as online horse betting is legal in the state. By far, the best option for making these kinds of wagers is with TVG. TVG, in addition to being a horse betting site, is a full-service round-the-clock broadcast network dedicated to horse racing. If you want to become a better bettor, you should try TVG.
Virginia law does not require online sportsbooks to be affiliated with land-based casinos in the state in order to operate. Such a requirement would be quite stifling in a state that has no casinos currently and might only have five of them in the near future.
However, the proposed new casinos are permitted by state law to offer sports betting independent of the 12 licenses that online operators may acquire. As such, each location’s development team has either already secured a partnership or is negotiating a partnership with sportsbook companies to provide the operations of the prospective sportsbooks on the properties.
Here are the sites and their likely partners:
At this point, most of these sites are still uncertain about their partners. The only ones that have announced a union so far are Hard Rock in Bristol and Rush Street in Portsmouth.
However, once the referendum election takes place in November 2020, we will have a much clearer picture about which properties are coming and which are staying on the shelf. Stay tuned.
There are five cities in Virginia designated as possible locations for new casinos. Any casino plan that ends up coming to fruition in Virginia is likely going to include a provision for a retail sportsbook. The opportunity for profit is simply too great to ignore.
We don’t know exactly which of the five cities’ voters will approve the introduction of a casino yet. All five may do so, but there won’t be an answer until the November election.
In the meantime, we can say that there is a potential for retail sports betting in these five Virginia cities:
Sports betting became legal in Virginia in July 2020. The twin bills (House and Senate versions) passed through both chambers in April 2020 and only drew a few tweaks from Gov. Ralph Northam. After lawmakers accepted the governor’s changes, the new law had only to wait two months before it became effective.
There were some positive and negative things about the finished version of the law. On the one hand, online sportsbook operators did not have to gain partnership in the state to apply for one of 12 licenses approved in the statute. In addition, the language of the bill provided for the potential for five new sportsbooks at proposed casino sites in the state. Finally, an 18th license was approved as a possible bargaining chip to lure a professional sports team to the state.
On the other hand, the language of the bill was quite restrictive with regard to betting on collegiate sports. No Virginia college can be the subject of a wager, and in game betting on collegiate sports of any kind is prohibited.
It’s unclear how many of the 18 potential licenses will end up used. However, between the population centers in and around Virginia, the modest $250,000 license fee (active for three years) and the reasonable 15% tax rate, there should be plenty of interest from enterprising sportsbook operators.
Yes. Sports betting became legal in Virginia by virtue of HB 896/SB 384, twin bills that passed through the Virginia General Assembly. The bills passed in April 2020 and became law in July 2020.
Yes. Virginia was the very first state to recognize DFS formally when it did so in March 2016. Though the legal recognition actually created some barriers to entry for smaller operators, the two big dogs of the industry, FanDuel and DraftKings, are legal entities in Virginia. It is likely that they will show up as sportsbook operators in the near future, too.
No. It is not a requirement that you be a Virginia resident to play. In fact, you can download and use almost every function of Virginia sportsbook apps from anywhere in the country.
You must be physically located inside Virginia to cast a bet on a Virginia sportsbook. The operators will use geolocation verification software to confirm your location, and the threat of sanctions and fines means that they don’t mess around on this issue.
No. Betting on in-state college teams (and high school sports, for that matter) is prohibited by Virginia law. Additionally, in game wagering on any college sport whatsoever is against the rules.