It seems like it’s been years since the process started, but Virginia sports betting finally took a big step Tuesday.
The Virginia Lottery approved sports betting regulations after a 56-day public comment period closed on Sept. 9.
We’re still a few months from actual sports betting in Virginia, though. Operators can apply from Oct. 15 through Oct. 31. Regulators will have up to 90 days to consider those applications.
The first sportsbooks should launch in time to take part in NFL betting during the playoffs in January.
Who is interested in Virginia sports betting?
As expected, Virginia looks like it’s receiving plenty of attention for its 12 online sportsbook licenses.
Five of those licenses should go to approved casino operators in the state. It will be up to Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall to decide how many of the remaining seven licenses should be awarded to create the best revenue opportunity for the state.
Looking at who submitted comments, there likely won’t be a shortage of applicants:
- BetMGM Sportsbook
- Caesars Sportsbook
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- FanDuel Sportsbook
- Handle 19
- Hard Rock Sportsbook
- Penn Interactive (Barstool Sportsbook)
- Rush Street (BetRivers Sportsbook)
- theScore Bet
At least two of those on the list should be part of the five casino operators. Both Caesars and Rush Street are in line to open casinos in the state.
Some of the eight others could partner with casinos as well. At least one of the suspected casino operators, the Pamunkey Indians, will need to sign with an operator.
Lots of changes requested
The Virginia Lottery has a few main topics to consider from all of the comments submitted on the draft regulations.
One hot topic is how much access the leagues get to betting data. The MLB, NBA and PGA Tour want real-time access to betting data without approval from the executive director, which is the requirement in the draft regulations.
Those leagues also see no need for them to be licensed in the state.
Some sportsbook operators, including Penn National and theScore Bet, want the Lottery to remove a proposed requirement that the executive director approves all advertising.
Responsible gambling should be a top priority as well. There’s been push back from operators on the proposed regulation that would require sportsbooks to honor requests to limit or ban bettors by third parties.
Caesars offered a bit of a chilly stance on problem gambling. Taking personal responsibility for gambling decisions is part of the recovery process for a problem gambler, according to the operator.