Are We A Meeting Away From More Virginia Sports Betting Operators?

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Virginia sports betting

Ready for some déjà vu? There’s another conference coming to settle an issue on Virginia sports betting legislation.

SB 1254 from Sen. Jeremy McPike and HB 1847 from Del. Mark Sickles want to accomplish the same thing: expand the allowed operators and add more betting markets.

But their chambers have different priorities, it seems. An amendment regarding minority ownership for potential sportsbook operators in the state seems to be holding the bills up.

Both bills passed the opposite chambers after receiving substitutions, but failed unanimously when they returned to their original chambers to approve those changes. That’s why the two bills will be discussed in conference, likely by Friday, before final passage next week, McPike’s office told LSR.

This is the same scenario as last year when the chambers couldn’t decide on certain aspects of the proposed VA sports betting law.

Big difference in Virginia sports betting bills

Sickles’ bill received an amendment in the House that calls for “substantial and preferred consideration” to any sports betting applicant that focuses on minority ownership:

In issuing permits to operate sports betting platforms prior to July 1, 2025, the Director shall give substantial and preferred consideration to any applicant that demonstrates in its application (i) a description of any equity interest owned by minority individuals or minority-owned businesses, (ii) a detailed plan to achieve increased minority equity investment, (iii) a description of all efforts made to seek equity investment from minority individuals or minority-owned businesses, or (iv) a plan detailing efforts made to solicit participation of minority individuals or minority-owned businesses in the applicant’s purchase of goods and services related to the sports betting platform or to provide assistance to a historically disadvantaged community or historically black colleges and universities located within the Commonwealth.

It’s unclear how this amendment would impact those sportsbook operators already licensed should it pass.

More mobile-only licenses under proposal

The good thing about the proposals is they don’t take anything away from the customers already betting in the market. FanDuel Sportsbook suddenly launched the state’s sports betting market Jan. 21, and there’s been a slow trickle of sportsbooks joining since then.

So far, there are five online sportsbooks licensed and live, but just two of those are mobile-only licenses: BetMGM and DraftKings Sportsbook. FanDuel’s partnership with the Washington Football Team has no impact as agreements with professional teams are exempt from any license cap.

BetRivers and William Hill‘s licenses, on the other hand, currently count against the mobile-only maximum of 12 licenses. That wasn’t the intention of last year’s bill, both sponsors noted.

Should the proposal pass, Virginia could have up to 17 mobile sportsbooks before any team partnerships like FanDuel’s are considered: 12 mobile-only operators and five mobile operators tied to a casino license.

More betting markets too

The proposal won’t just allow more sports betting operators. It’ll give Virginia’s bettors more to bet on as well.

The Virginia Lottery ultimately denied operators’ requests to allow betting on the Olympics when drafting regulations last year.

The bills from McPike and Sickles now specifically allow betting on the Olympics. Betting on other international sports events that are technically amateur sports is allowed too.

The two also clearly don’t want to deal with this issue again. The bills give the Virginia Lottery’s executive director the power to authorize sports betting markets.