Virginia Lottery to Accept Sports Betting Applications Starting Thursday

  • The online application process will begin for operators, suppliers, and vendors alike
  • A 90-day approval window means the first sportsbooks could go live by January 12 or earlier
  • The Virginia Lottery Board approved the state’s digital sports betting regulations on September 15
  • Retail sportsbooks in four Virginia cities are possible if voters approve a casino ballot measure
Blue Welcome to Virginia sign
Digital sportsbooks could start going live in the Old Dominion on January 12 after the Virginia Lottery posted instructions online that it would start receiving licensing applications on October 15. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Sportsbooks could go live by January 12

The Virginia Lottery continues its momentum for an early 2021 launch of digital sports betting in the state after posting licensing application rules online. Operators, suppliers, and vendors can submit electronic-only applications via the Lottery’s online license system starting October 15.

operators, suppliers, and vendors can submit electronic-only applications

Under state rules, once an application is filed, the lottery has a 90-day window to approve or deny the submission. If the lottery’s approval process takes the full 90 days, it means sportsbooks in the Old Dominion could start going live on January 12.

An approved operator could launch earlier, depending on the lottery’s processes and subject to the approval of the operator’s attendant vendors and suppliers.

Interested applicants are also required to provide narrative support of their project plan. A guide to supplying the narrative includes asking the applicant to describe how their “project would lead to the creation of quality, living wage jobs for residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Looking good on the digital front

Virginia Lottery’s call for online applications to soon commence moves the state’s sports betting plans into the fourth quarter. In mid-September, the Virginia Lottery Board approved the state’s digital sports betting regulations. At that time, the lottery said it would be taking applications from October 15-31, which means its schedule remains spot on.

good balance between regulating and allowing the business to operate”

First out of the blocks will likely be the big three sportsbooks: DraftKings, FanDuel, and Penn National Gaming. All three have been making their presence felt in Virginia, pushing back on many aspects of the lottery’s initial sports betting ruling, which was released for public review back in August.

After striking what Virginia Lottery Board chairman Ferhan Hamid said was a “good balance between regulating and allowing the business to operate,” several modifications were made to the regulations and received the board’s approval on September 15.

One of the revised rules was that apps only need to display the sum wagered plus the odds “at which the wager is offered.” A rule permitting bettors to put themselves on a self-exclusion list via the apps was also struck down, as was a rule that required operators to obtain lottery approval in advance for any advertising materials.

Ground campaign nears D-Day

Virginia state regulations currently only allow digital sports betting. A ballot measure this November, however, gives voters a chance to give the green light to retail sportsbooks at four proposed casinos in Bristol, Danville, Portsmouth, and Norfolk.

Rush Street Gaming’s BetRivers sportsbook is set to grace the potential Rivers Casino in Portsmouth, and likewise Caesars could bring its William Hill sportsbook to the Danville party. Bristol has opted for Hard Rock Hotel, which recently partnered with sportsbook operator Scientific Games.

Norfolk has chosen the Pamunkey Indian Tribe as its construction partner. It’s not yet clear what, if any, sportsbook will be featured at the proposed Norfolk Resort and Casino.