Next VA Sports Betting License Awarded To Unibet, More Coming

Posted on April 22, 2021
VA sports betting
Posted By on April 22, 2021

Old Dominion is finally in double digits for betting licenses as the state lottery handed out its 10th VA sports betting license.

The Virginia Lottery posted a Unibet temporary license approval on its website Thursday, though approval date was technically Wednesday. Unibet’s parent company Kindred sent out a release Thursday confirming the license.

“We are excited to add Virginia to the growing list of states that Unibet and Kindred Group call home as we continue our expansion in the US market,” Kindred senior VP of US Manuel Stan said. “Our aim is to go live shortly and we expect that the success we have seen in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana will of course follow in Virginia.”

When asked to clarify what “shortly” means, Stan told LSR:

“While we have not yet publicly communicated an exact date, we are confident we will be able to communicate a date shortly – definitely a matter of days rather than months.”

That would be faster than the three other VA sportsbooks that are currently waiting to launchBally’s, Barstool Sportsbook and Golden Nugget all could be looking at summer launches.

More VA sports betting licenses coming

Unibet’s standalone license could have been the last handed out if legislation did not expand the market this year.

Kindred took the seventh stand-alone mobile license in the state. The other five would have been kept for the state’s eventual casino partners, even though that was not the intention. Legislation from both chambers quickly addressed a shortcoming from last year’s law and essentially added five more licenses to the market.

Applications for those licenses will be taken between May 15 and May 31, the Virginia Lottery announced Wednesday. There is no guarantee the lottery will award all five, though. Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall can award as many standalone licenses – up to 12 total – as he believes creates the best economic return for Virginia.

Hall said Wednesday that talks already resumed with interested parties:

“We’re now in active discussions with several applicants who voluntarily withdrew their applications as we started to bump up against the cap.”

Unibet will have some catching up to do

The Virginia Lottery also finally broke out some VA sports betting data for the first time Wednesday. Based on the numbers, Unibet has its work cut out to grab share in the market.

FanDuel Sportsbook is the top operator by handle through March based on preliminary results with 53% market share. The next operator, DraftKings Sportsbook, holds a 24% handle share. BetMGM and William Hill are an even more distant third and fourth with 14% and 8% shares, respectively.

It might not be as easy as dishing out promo dollars to raise interest, either. William Hill, for instance, accounted for 20% of the $30 million in promos offered so far in the market.

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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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