Lawmakers in Virginia heard recently that they should prepare for not only the launch of sports betting by early 2021 but perhaps even legal online casinos introduced to the Old Dominion State within another 12 months.
Officials have estimated legalized sports betting in Virginia will generate up to $55 million in state tax revenue per year, and online casino revenue would boost those state revenue numbers even higher. It’s critical potential new funding for state infrastructure, education, health and other essential state services like Fire and Police Departments.
In a presentation to the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee last week, Virginia Lottery Director Kevin Hall recently to the Virginia State House of Delegates Appropriations Committee that he is confident that the state will launch both legal online and land-based sports by early 2021, and that by spring 2022 that the four new casinos approved by voters in the November 3 referendum will also able to offer legal online sports betting.
The Virginia Lottery has already received 25 sports betting applications to date; however, it is not expected that each of those prospective operators will be able to meet final approval.
Big-name companies like FanDuel, DraftKings, 888Sport, BetMGM, William Hill, Caesars, and Penn National Gaming (gaming industry betting partner of Barstool Sports), and major other major online sportsbook operators have already shown interest in Virginia’s sports betting industry and are widely considered to be among the applicants.
Virginia State law will only permit a maximum of 12 approved licenses, although there is a loophole for operators to work out of professional sports venues. Those operators working out of the sports stadiums will not be counted in the maximum of 12 licenses. Wynn Bet is currently lobbying the State Government that auto-racing venues will be considered as “professional sports facilities” under the new gaming law, due to their ongoing partnerships with Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway. Furthermore, Washington’s NFL franchise is also considering building a new stadium within Virginia state lines to take advantage of the new law.
Virginia’s New Casinos and What it Means for Online Casinos
Four Virginia cities have now approved casino gaming following the safe passage of the state referendum by voters on November 3: Norfolk, Portsmouth, Danville and Bristol.
The Virginia General Assembly legalized casinos in the state earlier this year and chose five potential locations, including Richmond. The four cities that passed the November 3 referendum will have any future properties regulated by the Virginia Lottery and presumably with that, the ability to offer online casinos as well just like their counterpartsin Pennsylvania, New Jersey and neighboring West Virginia.
Meanwhile, the Pamunkey Tribe will invest $500 million to build a resort on the Elizabeth River Banks. The casino will be located near the interstate as well as the Amtrak station.
A gaming tax for each casino in Virginia will go towards funding Virginia Public Schools. The Pamunkey Tribe anticipates the Norfolk location alone to bring in $50 million.
However, the land-based casino revenue amounts could be just a drop in the ocean to what could be potentially be generated through online casinos. Other legal online casino states regularly report huge revenue numbers. Of the enormous revenue sums, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in particular report as much as 80-85% of their state casino revenue is now generated online.
While the global pandemic has lifted those online revenue percentages in recent months, it was a trend that had already begun to shift, and the global pandemic has merely accelerated it.
We certainly hope that Virginia Lottery Director Kevin Hall is correct that could have online casinos in Virginia by 2022. Earlier would even be better.