Bill Sponsor Says Virginia Sports Betting Making ‘A Lot Of Progress’ Before Deadline

Posted on March 7, 2020 - Last Updated on April 27, 2020

Virginia sports betting is running out of time with the legislature ending Saturday. But according to Del. Mark Sickles, things look positive.

“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Sickles said. “Still haven’t signed the conference report yet. We may do it (Friday) but it could be (Saturday.) We have a few details to iron out.”

For most of the session, there have been two main sports betting bills: HB 896 and SB 384. Neither chamber could agree to let the other move forward, which led to a conference between the two sides.

One significant change is additional sports betting licenses for sports teams in the state.

Virginia sports betting will be land-based too

HB 4, which would legalize five casinos throughout Virginia, is “probably going to pass,” Sickles said. Those would all be allowed to open their own sportsbooks at the casino.

Sickles said the conference is asking the lottery board for special consideration for mobile VA sports betting licenses for those operators in exchange for their financial commitment to the state.

The casino’s online licenses will not count toward the state’s minimum of four online-only licenses.

So those online-only licenses will still be available to operators that don’t land deals with the new casinos.

Professional team could also get mobile license

The conference also agreed on what leagues would qualify for a Virginia sports betting license should they headquarter in the state.

Any team with MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL or Major League Soccer would qualify for the license. HB 896 previously allowed for any professional team while SB 384 limited the teams to the top four leagues.

Those online licenses awarded to professional teams would not count toward the license limits, Sickles said.

That could entice the Washington Redskins to move, considering they have ties to Virginia already. But the team, which is contracted to play at FedEx Field in Maryland until 2027, has also been included in Maryland’s sports betting legislation this year.

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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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