Secretive Virginia Sports Betting Rollout Trickles On With BetMGM Launch

Posted on January 26, 2021
Virginia sports betting
Posted By on January 26, 2021

BetMGM will join the top two US sports betting operators in the new Virginia market when the brand launches its mobile sportsbook this week.

VA sports betting launched last Thursday – to the surprise of many – when FanDuel Sportsbook accepted the state’s first legal bet. Three days later, DraftKings Sportsbook went live Sunday afternoon in time for NFL betting on the conference championship games.

BetMGM received its temporary permit Sunday and will take its first bet on Wednesday, a company spokesperson confirmed.

These three sportsbooks are all we know about the Virginia Lottery‘s secretive licensing process so far. A total of 25 companies applied and we still don’t know how many will actually get a license, although it is certain not all will be approved.

Busy first weekend for Virginia sports betting

It seems pretty clear there was pent-up demand for legal Virginia and Michigan sports betting, which launched Friday.

There were 7.5 million geolocation transactions made by more than 400,000 accounts across the two states over the weekend, according to geolocation provider GeoComply.

The two states accounted for a quarter of the more than 30 million transactions tracked in 17 US betting jurisdictions. Total transactions jumped 260% over the prior year with seven additional markets from last year:

  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington DC

What’s next in Virginia?

There are definitely more sportsbooks launching in Virginia. It’s just unclear when.

A Virginia Lottery spokesperson said he anticipated more than one sportsbook to take legal Super Bowl bets this year, but that was Thursday when FanDuel launched. So BetMGM and DraftKings could be the only other two to launch by Feb. 7, 2021.

That doesn’t seem likely, though. The Virginia Lottery had 90 days to consider the 25 applications that were due by the end of October.

A spokesperson noted, that 90 days starts once the lottery gets a complete application. But operators knew Virginia was on a tight schedule from the beginning.

Most of these companies applied in multiple jurisdictions and would likely be timely with needed information, especially when a license isn’t guaranteed.

FanDuel partnered with the Washington Football Team, which got preferred treatment in the process because of a quirk in state law. But DraftKings and BetMGM were approved just three days later under mobile-only licenses, so it would be surprising for nearly two weeks to pass without another operator launching.

More VA sports betting licenses too

Virginia sports betting became interesting even before FanDuel surprisingly announced the state’s launch last week.

Del. Mark Sickles filed legislation this month that would increase the total licenses allowed. He wants to remove the preferred licenses for five potential casinos from the cap of 12 maximum mobile-only operators.

Sickles said that was his intention last year but it wasn’t reflected in the bill.

That puts the maximum market at 17 sportsbook operators, but that’s before sports franchises are considered. The FanDuel license through the Washington Football Team gives Virginia a maximum of 18 operators for now.

More licenses could be on the way should other major league franchises move their headquarters or build a new stadium to Virginia.

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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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