Virginia Sports Betting and Casino Bills Advance to Governor’s Desk

  • House and Senate passed two bills calling for legalization of commercial casinos, sports betting
  • Both have now advanced to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk to be signed into law
  • HB 896 would make 4-12 sports betting licenses available to operators in the state
  • HB 4 would see Virginia's 5 first-ever commercial casinos in operation
person in suit signing a formal document
Lawmakers in Virginia have approved two bills that would legalize commercial casinos and sports betting in the state. []

Senate and House vote in favor

Lawmakers in Virginia’s House of Representatives and Senate have passed a couple of bills that would legalize sports betting and commercial casinos in the state. Both measures are now on Governor Ralph Northam’s desk, waiting to be signed into law. 

now on Governor Ralph Northam’s desk, waiting to be signed into law

House Bill (HB) 896 calls for legal retail and online sports betting in Virginia. It made its way through the Senate on March 7 with a comprehensive vote of 33-5 in favor of passage. The House then approved the legislation on March 8 with a vote of 59-35.

House Bill 4 allows five commercial casinos to open in Virginia. The House gave it the green light on March 8 after a vote of 60-35 in support of the bill. All five casinos would be permitted to operate a retail sportsbook facility as part of their offering. 

Final step towards legislation

The conclusion of the 2020 legislative session in Virginia was set to be March 7. However, an extension was granted, mainly to allow for the progression of the two gambling expansion bills.

both measures would become part of state law by the end of 2020 

If Governor Northam was to give the final stamp of approval, both measures would become part of state law by the end of 2020. 

HB 896 calls for the sector’s regulations to be completed by September 15. Their confirmation would then enable the licensing process to begin, with permits to be handed out within 60 days.

Specifics of legal sports betting

The sports betting bill would see the Virginia Lottery in charge of regulation for the sector, including the issuance of licenses. Between four and twelve licenses would be up for grabs, each carrying an initial price tag of $250,000. 

The market would incur a 15% tax on gross sports betting revenue. Initially, the rate was set at 20%, but negotiations in the legislature lowered it by 5%.

The bill would allow wagers on all pro sports, but no betting would be permitted on college sports. This was the most contentious part of the bill while going through the legislature. For live betting, sportsbooks would have to use official sports league data when offering these markets. 

The Virginia Lottery would also set up a voluntary self-exclusion program to help those who want to stop themselves from placing sports bets. 

Insights into legal casinos

Once signed into law, HB 4 would see Virginia’s first-ever commercial casinos in operation. As well as being able to open a retail sportsbook, each of the five planned casinos would also be eligible for an online sports betting license. These permits would not count towards the maximum number of licenses specified in HB 896. 

Operators who get hold of a commercial casino license would be charged a $15m fee. The tax rate system would be tiered, with 18% imposed on the initial $200m in adjusted gross receipts. This would rise to 23% for gross revenues of more than $200m and less than $400m. Revenues exceeding $400m would be subject to a 30% tax rate.

All revenues generated from gambling market taxation in Virginia will go into the state’s Gaming Proceeds Fund. 

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