Virginia Lottery Considering 25 Mobile Sports Betting License Applications

  • Initial application period was October 15-30, no operator names revealed
  • Virginia Lottery has to issue at least four licenses up to a maximum of 12
  • It will consider applicants' US betting market experience, estimated tax revenue and new jobs
  • With a 90-day window for license approvals, sportsbooks expected to launch early 2021
  • Voters also recently green-lighted new casino facilities in four Virginian cities
business person using tablet and stylus
The Virginia Lottery is currently reviewing 25 mobile sports betting license applications from interested sportsbook companies looking to operate in the state. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A review process

The Virginia Lottery has announced it is currently reviewing applications from 25 operators that are seeking a mobile sports betting license in the state. The interested companies submitted their documents digitally during the initial application time window of October 15-31. Their names will not be publicly released.

As part of state law, the Virginia Lottery must issue at least four licenses and no more than a dozen. The cap on total licenses does not include any permits that go to major league sports franchises having headquarters or home games in the state of Virginia.

Bristol, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Danville will have to battle it out

However, the casino gaming partners that are a part of upcoming casino developments in Bristol, Portsmouth, Norfolk, and Danville will have to battle it out to get one of the 12 available licenses.

Applicant assessment

The Virginia Lottery will be considering several factors in its review of the applications received. They include the operator’s previous experience and success within the US sports betting sector. The lottery body will also assess an applicant’s efforts to attract minority investors, their estimated tax revenue from operations, and how many jobs they expect to create.

interest in sports betting licenses from both national and international operators

Virginia Lottery executive director Kevin Hall acknowledged the high level of interest in sports betting licenses from both national and international operators. He said such attention validates “Virginia’s efforts to strike an appropriate and responsible balance in its regulatory program for legalized sports betting.”

Hall added that the lottery is confident that the deliberate review process of all potential license holders will lead to a successful program that will protect taxpayers, consumers, and athletes.

Road to legalization

The process of legalizing sports betting activity in the state happened pretty fast. Twin bills passed through the state’s House and Senate in April 2020, following a few minor amendments by Governor Ralph Northam. The legislation became effective in July 2020, followed by a 60-day public comment period. The proposed sports betting regulations got the Virginia Lottery Board’s green light in mid-September.

The rules prohibit betting on youth or college sports events that involve Virginia teams. A 15% tax rate will apply to the gross revenue of mobile sportsbooks once they launch. Currently, there are no retail sports betting licenses in the state.

With a 90-day window in place for the approval or rejection of the applications received, the Virginia Lottery hopes to launch sports betting in the state in early 2021.

Gambling expansion in Virginia

As well as voting in favor of the launch of legal sports betting, Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth residents recently approved the development of commercial casinos in the four cities. Richmond will vote on the issue at a later date. The facilities are likely to generate high tax revenue, jobs, and economic activity within the state. 

Four of the cities already announced their gaming partners for the construction of the casino properties. Norfolk chose the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, with the project said to cost approximately $500m and create around 2,500 permanent jobs. 

Bristol is teaming up with Hard Rock International for the project, which will give rise to 2,000 jobs. Rush Street Gaming is the partner for Portsmouth, while Caesars Entertainment is working alongside Danville on a proposed $400m casino project. Richmond has yet to decide on a gambling partner.