Multiple members of the Virginia House made it clear no licensed VA sportsbooks would take bets on in-state colleges anytime soon.
Sen. Monty Mason‘s SB 576 was tabled as expected by the House’s General Laws Committee after 9 p.m. Thursday following a brief discussion. A companion bill by Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg met a similar quick fate in a General Laws subcommittee earlier this month.
It was during the discussion on HB 1127 that Del. Barry Knight said in-state college betting was a no-go for him and others. Knight and other delegates confirmed that stance Thursday night and suggested it could be quite the wait before Virginia sportsbooks take bets on UVA and Virginia Tech.
Virginia sportsbooks would obviously love to book bets on hometown favorites but it has not been all bad news for them this session. A bill from Del. Mark Sickles to end promo deductions from taxable revenue after 12 months died without a hearing.
College ban at VA sportsbooks part of deal
Casinos and sports betting were legalized during the 2020 session. Expanding Virginia’s gambling took a lot of negotiation, with one of those deals the betting ban on in-state colleges.
Del. Luke Torian started off by saying he had to stay true to that agreement. Knight expanded on the thought:
“Senator, when we did this when the casino bill came in, we had an agreement in there that we weren’t going to bet on any Virginia [college] sports. I had that agreement with Del. Sickles and some others.
“Now you might not have been a party to that deal but I’m going to be like Del. Torian and I’m going to have to be consistent too because that’s the agreement that us that were in the closed shop, and we tried to tell everyone else, that we were not going to allow any betting on Virginia college sports.”
Mason accepted that stance but added: “Mr. Chairman and Chairman Knight, I expect once casinos get open, they’re going to be knocking down your door suggesting and requesting a change.”
Del. David Bulova also suggested with that legislation passing less than two years ago, it is too early to revisit the issue.
Bulova: prefer to keep it illegal to protect students
Mason knew he was walking into a tough crowd Thursday, considering Knight quickly shut down VanValkenburg’s legislation.
Still, he tried his best to explain why a betting ban on college sports is ineffective, noting how local bookies would still be busy taking bets on in-state college games. It is bigger than that, of course, with offshore sportsbooks offering numerous betting options on those games online.
Illegal betting is not enough to consider a change, though, Bulova later said.
“Sometimes these are going to happen illegally but this is looking out after our Virginia students. This is making sure that we’re not going ahead and putting our seal of approval on that kind of activity.”