The state lottery’s application process concerning who will operate Virginia sports betting appears more secretive than necessary.
The Virginia Lottery confirmed 25 sports betting operators applied between Oct. 15 and Halloween. Who they are, however, sounds like it will remain a secret until the winners are chosen.
“The names of specific applicants will not be publicly released or acknowledged,” the Lottery said in a press release.
“The high level of interest by national and international sports betting operators validates Virginia’s efforts to strike an appropriate and responsible balance in its regulatory program for legalized sports betting,” said Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall. “We are confident that the deliberative review process we are undergoing now will result in a successful program that protects consumers, athletes, and taxpayers.”
Hall confirmed at a recent meeting the lottery remains on track to launch VA sports betting in early 2021. So even though Virginia will miss out on regular-season NFL betting, playoff and Super Bowl betting should be possible.
Who is interested in Virginia sports betting?
Some operators already confirmed they will apply for one of the up to 12 sports betting licenses in Virginia. A minimum of four online-only licenses must be handed out.
PointsBet confirmed its interest in Virginia in its most recent earnings call. WynnBET, meanwhile, confirmed its application when announcing it would become the official online sportsbook of two NASCAR tracks in the state if approved for a license.
LSR also understands BetMGM, DraftKings Sportsbook and theScore Bet applied.
FanDuel Sportsbook, US Bookmaking and Handle 19 also responded to the Lottery’s public comment period.
Four licenses will go to VA casinos
It looks like at least four of the sportsbook apps in the state will have a casino partner after cities approved referendums to host those casinos. A potential fifth casino in Richmond is on a different timeline.
Even though the Lottery can approve 12 online-only licenses, casinos get preferential treatment for their investment in the state. The sportsbook licenses approved for casinos do not count against the minimum four online-only licenses, but do count against the cap of 12.
This means we likely know three sportsbook operators in the state already:
- BetRivers parent Rush Street Gaming is the preferred casino partner in Portsmouth.
- Hard Rock should handle its own betting as the preferred partner in Bristol. The company recently selected Scientific Games for its sports betting operations in Iowa and New Jersey.
- William Hill‘s soon-to-be parent Caesars Entertainment is the preferred partner in Danville.
The Pamunkey Indians, who have not outlined their sports betting plans, will run the fourth casino approved for Norfolk. The Pamunkey are also the preferred partner for the Richmond casino.