How Virginia Sports Betting Became legal & How it will Work

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06/18/2020
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Sports betting is officially legal in Virginia after overcoming a tricky path through the legislative process and some administrative hiccups.

The dual sports wagering bills HB 896 and SB 384 have already become law and will become fully effective on July 1. After overcoming some last-minute changes and recommendations, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam finally put his signature to the bills to finalize the legalization process.

The Virginia state government has unveiled an aggressive time line to get sports betting up-and-running ASAP. The Virginia Lottery Board has been put in charge of the new sports betting industry, and they have been tasked with coming up with regulations no later than September 15.

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The timeline calls for a public-comment period on proposed regulations in July-August, rules approved by that September 15 date, and operator applications should be made available to the industry by the end of September.

Given the Lottery Board has 90 days to approve the applications, lawmakers have affirmed their understanding that we could see the first legal sports wagers placed as early as December.

What Governor Northam wanted changed in Virginia Sports Betting

The major recommendation that Governor Northam attached to these bills was a $50 000 fee to cover background checks for the principal members of sports betting operators. It is understood that some of the potential Virginia sports betting operators will have as many as 20 employees that could fall under the category as principal. In that scenario, operators could be looking at potentially $1 million simply to undertake background checks.

Given that possibility, the Virginia Lottery Board will need to come up with a better definition of a principal employee to limit those exorbitant fees on the sports betting operators and encourage more operators to participate in the nascent industry.

Governor Northam also wanted the sports betting bill to permit Virginia-based teams from the NBA, MLB, NHL, or NFL (or those prepared to relocate to the state) to possibly apply for a sports betting license.

Clearly, this proviso was added to lure the Washington Redskins to relocate to the state when looking at locations for the construction of a new stadium. In addition, legislators have discussed that the Newport News/Virginia Beach area has been steadily courting an NBA team.

NASCAR Tracks can apply for Virginia Sports Betting

Governor Northam made it very clear that he also wanted changes to the legislation that permitted NASCAR tracks to be included as Virginia sports betting locations, and the state’s lawmakers approved the change.

The change will allow both the Martinsville Speedway and the Richmond Raceway to either apply for their own sports betting license or potentially partner with another sports wagering operator.

According the legislation, Virginia sportsbooks will be required to pay a $250 000 licensing fee valid for three years. All sports betting revenue is set to be taxed at a rate of 15 percent.

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Casinos to be permitted in Virginia under the same law

Virginia is beginning its fledgling sports betting industry without any legal casinos nor experience regulating them. The state’s first casinos (5 to begin with) are to be allowed by the same law, making Virginia similar to its neighbors in Tennessee and Washington D.C., which are also not home to any casinos, however, already legislated for legal sports betting.

Virginia online sports betting regulations

Regarding mobile sports betting, the new Virginia law calls for a minimum of four online sports betting licenses up to a maximum of 12. With a maximum of 12, that could see 5 to partner with the casinos and 7 to operate independently such as FanDuel, 888Sport or SugarHouse sportsbook..

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