‘Votes Are There’ To Legalize Virginia Sports Betting in 2020 Legislature

Posted on January 29, 2020

A mobile-only Virginia sports betting bill has the votes to pass this year with operators potentially live by the NFL season, Sen. Jeremy McPike said.

“I think the votes are there for online sports betting to take place,” McPike told Legal Sports Report.

McPike’s SB 384 was reported out of the General Laws and Technology Committee and referred to the Finance and Appropriations Committee Wednesday.

The bill could bring in big bucks for the state. A Virginia gaming study suggested mobile sports betting revenue could approach $400 million at maturity.

The legislature considered sports betting in Virginia last year before authorizing the study to examine its potential.

Virginia sports betting bill details

SB 384 originally started with a revenue tax at 20%, but McPike dropped that down to 15% at the subcommittee hearing.

The tax rate will likely fall somewhere between the two, he said. The Finance and Appropriation Committee will take a look at the rate.

The bill allows for 10 mobile sports betting licenses with a minimum of six to be issued by the lottery director. It will be up to the director to decide how many licenses are economically viable.

It was important to include that minimum of six licenses to ensure decent competition, McPike said.

Official league data requirement

The least operator-friendly part of the bill is the call for official league data for in-play betting. The section is modeled after Michigan‘s law, but it’s not guaranteed to stick around.

“That’s still part of our process,” McPike said. “Not sure where the final version is going to end up. We’ve asked, certainly, for any additional language from the stakeholders.”

The bill requires that league data be made available on “commercially reasonable” terms.

That, as defined by the bill, means the data must be available from more than one authorized source. The market information regarding the purchase of the data from those sources by sportsbooks from all states must also be available. The lottery director can also use any other information he or she deems relevant.

Sportsbooks would have up to 120 days to take in-play bets using any data while the lottery determines if the official data was made available on those commercially reasonable terms.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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