virginia lottery

VA Lottery Receives 18 Applications for Additional Sportsbook Licenses

The Virginia Lottery has kicked off the vetting process for the remaining sportsbook licenses available in the state.

In a press statement, a Lottery spokesperson revealed that the regulator has received 18 fresh applications for the additional online permits authorized by the state’s new sports betting act, and that the process of reviewing them is underway.

However, the spokesperson did not state when the new licenses will be approved, although there is a likelihood that it won’t be before the newly enacted legislation becomes law.

The new VA sports gambling act, which seeks to increase the number of online operators in the state and allow more betting markets, is set to take effect on July 1.

Bettors in the Old Dominion could have as many as 18 sportsbook brands or more when the additional permits are approved.

Up to Five More Online Sportsbook Licenses Up for Grabs

The Commonwealth of Virginia legalized sports betting in April 2020 through SB 384 and HB 896. Under the current law, the VA Lottery is allowed to authorize 4 – 12 online-only operators to offer mobile wagering in the state.

The process of launching the regulated market began in October last year, with 25 operators submitting applications for sports betting licenses to the Lottery.

Among those licensed to operate sportsbooks in the state include FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings, BetMGM, Unibet, WynnBet, William Hill, and BetRivers. Three more brands including BallyBet, Golden Nugget, and Penn Gaming’s Barstool Sportsbook have also been approved but they’re yet to launch their apps.

Early this year, the state’s lawmakers proposed to amend the current law to expand the legal VA sports betting market. The changes included modifying the enabling legislation to exclude tethered licensees from the mobile-only category.

This means that entities like William Hill and BetRivers will not count against the cap of 12 online-only licenses since they are tied to land-based casinos. BetRivers is tethered to the upcoming Rivers Casino in Portsmouth, while William Hill is licensed through the approved Caesars Casino in Danville.  

Permits acquired through partnerships with professional sports teams - like the contract between FanDuel Sportsbook and NFL side Washington Football Team - will not count towards the 12 maximum cap either.

The changes mean that up to five more stand-alone operators could be approved for statewide mobile betting in order to meet the maximum cap. The amended law also provides for substantial consideration of minority-owned businesses during the review process.

Virginians to Bet on Olympics Under New Sports Betting Law

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Besides paving the way for more licensees in the legal VA sports betting market, the new law also brings more wagering opportunities to residents of the Old Dominion.

Under the current legislation, for example, operators are not allowed to offer bets on the Olympics or any other event considered to be a youth sport. However, that will be a thing of the past when the new act becomes law on July 1.

Olympic competitions will be categorized as amateur sports alongside other non-professional sporting events like college sports under the new law. The act also allows the Lottery to approve or allow new betting markets in the future.

However, wagering on Virginia-based colleges or other sporting events where the competitors are below 18 years will remain illegal.

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