Virginia targets early 2021 debut after approving sports betting regulations

Virginia is one significant step closer to joining the US’ sports betting gold rush, after the state’s Lottery Board formally approved a regulatory framework set by the General Assembly in its sports betting legislation adopted earlier this year.

The statute authorises a minimum of four and a maximum of 12 licenses for internet-only sports betting platforms, with additional preferred consideration provided for applicants partnered with a major league team headquartered or competing extensively in Virginia.

“We continue to be committed to building a regulatory structure around sports betting that is transparent, responsible and fair to consumers and athletes,” said Virginia Lottery Board Chairman Ferhan Hamid

“Ultimately, our goal as the ‘referee’ of sports betting in the Commonwealth is to ensure a level playing field for providers and for Virginia consumers who choose to place a bet.”

Under the legislation, betting will be permitted on most major league and college sports, although not on games featuring Virginia college and university teams. Consumers will be able to place wagers on professional sports, certain college sports, and other sporting events, as well as on the performance statistics of individual athletes.

Applications for licenses will be accepted between October 15-31, 2020, with the statute providing the Lottery with 90 days from submission of a completed application to approve or deny issuance of a permit. That means licensed mobile platforms could begin offering the first legal wagers on sports in Virginia early in 2021.

“We have received and evaluated several hundred comments and suggestions submitted by citizens, sports betting and casino operators, and most of the major professional sports leagues, including the NFL, MLB, NBA and the PGA,” said Kevin Hall, Virginia Lottery executive director.

“A lot of helpful feedback was provided during the public comment period, and the updated regulations approved by the Lottery Board today incorporate many of the suggestions from stakeholders and citizens.”

The Lottery initially invited written suggestions on a regulatory framework from sports leagues and sportsbook operators in June, and the preliminary draft regulations were posted online for public comment beginning July 15 through September 9.