The licensing process for sports betting in Virginia has begun, with regulators eyeing up a launch in early 2021.
The Virginia Lottery Commission, which regulates gambling in the state, held a quarterly meeting last Wednesday. It had already approved regulations in September and began accepting applications for licenses in October. Those applications were accepted between the dates of October 15 and 31.
The current statute in place in the state provides the lottery with 90 days from the submission of a completed application to approve an application for a permit. In theory, this means that those operators that have applied for a license should be able to provide bettors with the chance to place legal wagers in early 2021.
This follows on from new legislation being passed in Virginia earlier in 2020. The state legislature passed a bill that legalized sports betting. It also stipulated that the state could offer a minimum of four and a maximum of 12 new sports betting licenses by the end of 2020.
There are five new casinos currently being built in the state. These are in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Richmond, though the latter has still to be approved by Virginia voters. One will also be awarded to a professional sports club if it relocates to the state. The Washington NFL franchise could be that club as it is currently seeking a new home.
Another sporting organisation looking at the situation in Virginia with interest is WynnBET, the digital gaming division of Wynn Resorts. They recently announced a multi-year sports betting partnership with NASCAR, and they are targeting Virginia as the state where they can kick off their joint enterprise in earnest. Many of NASCAR’s top events are staged in the state.
WynnBET, once its application is approved, is set to become the official online sportsbook for two of Virginia’s top NASCAR venues – Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway. WynnBET lounges are to be built at each of those venues with live, in-play betting on races expected to begin in 2021.
Both of those racetracks will join together to host four NASCAR Cup Series races per year, which is a greater number of top races than any other state in the USA.
Other sportsbooks, among them BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, are also expected to have applied for licenses, though the state has not named any applicants as things stand.
Residents of Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth have voted to approve casinos in their cities last Tuesday, while Richmond still awaits approval. None of those casinos is anticipated to be fully operational until 2021.
Last April, the Virginia state legislature passed HB4. This law legalised casinos in all five of those cities mentioned above. Richmond voters will get their say on the proposed casino in their city in due course.
Operators for the proposed casinos are already in place. In Bristol, Hard Rock International will run the casino, while in Danville it will be Caesars Entertainment. The Norfolk casino and the proposed site in Richmond will be run by the Pamunkey Indian Tribe. For Portsmouth, it will be Rush Street Gaming.