DraftKings Goes Live With Virginia Mobile Sportsbook as BetMGM Gets License Approval

  • DraftKings became the second operator to enter the Virginia market on Saturday, behind FanDuel
  • BetMGM received license approval Sunday but has not yet announced a launch date
  • The Virginia Lottery can approve 12 permits; 25 operators applied for licenses in November 2020
  • DraftKings' expansion fueled growth throughout 2020, with Q3 revenue up 98% year-on-year
mobile sports betting concept shows American football and pitch images on smartphone screen
DraftKings has launched its Virginia sportsbook app, while BetMGM received regulatory approval for its own launch in the state. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update: BetMGM will launch its Virginia online sports betting offering on January 27 after receiving licensing approval from the Virginia Lottery on January 24. The fourth operator to go live will be Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers on January 28.

Two to choose from

DraftKings is now the second operator to enter Virginia’s sports betting market, joining FanDuel in the Old Dominion State. Meanwhile, BetMGM could soon follow after receiving approval for its own Virginia sports betting license.

DraftKings announced the launch of its Virginia sportsbook on Saturday, saying it is offering betting on professional and collegiate sports. It took to Twitter the following day to share the news:

The Virginia Lottery website subsequently listed the operator on its approved license holders list with a “temporary permit”.

Just in time for Super Bowl LV”

In a company statement, Jason Robins, co-founder and CEO of DraftKings, expressed his excitement at launching before the Super Bowl, which kicks off on February 7. “Just in time for Super Bowl LV, we are thrilled to bring the DraftKings sports betting experience to Virginia with an abundance of betting options for fans,” he commented.

The Virginia Lottery has also listed BetMGM, the joint venture between MGM Resorts and Entain, as an approved sports betting permit holder. Like DraftKings, the operator appeared on the Lottery’s approved permits list on Sunday. BetMGM has not yet announced when it will launch in the state.

Virginia’s market takes shape

Last Thursday, FanDuel became the first sports betting operator to launch its sportsbook in Virginia. The operator utilized its partnership with the Virginia-based Washington Football Team to acquire the state’s first license. Virginia gaming regulation stipulates that any major league sports franchise will receive “substantial and preferred consideration” for license approval.

Although only FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM currently hold sports betting permits for Virginia, other operators could follow soon. In November last year, the Virginia Lottery announced it was reviewing a total of 25 applications for mobile sports betting licenses. However, in accordance with Virginia law, the regulator can only approve a total of 12.

PointsBet and Wynn Resorts have both expressed an interest in launching sportsbooks in the state. However, the Virginia Lottery has refused to name license applicants.

After FanDuel’s launch last week, Virginia became the 20th state to go live with a legal sports betting market. Two legislative bills, HB 896 and SB 384, make up the state’s sports betting regulation. Both became effective on July 1 last year. The Virginia Lottery Board had to approve regulation before a market could launch. The board completed this last September.

DraftKings’ sports betting expansion

Including Virginia, DraftKings’ sportsbook is now live in 12 states. Four of these launches occurred last year, including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, and Tennessee. The sports betting operator was able to capitalize on this wide-ranging customer base in 2020, seeing year-on-year revenue growth throughout.

generated revenue of $133m in Q3 2020, an increase of 98%

In DraftKings’ most recent trading update, the operator generated revenue of $133m in Q3 2020, an increase of 98% in comparison with 2019 levels. CEO Robins attributed the success in part to the resumption of major leagues such as the NBA, MLB, and NHL, saying they “generated tremendous customer engagement” resulting in a 64% increase in monthly unique payers. For each month in Q3, the number of unique depositing customers engaging with the DraftKings app surpassed one million.

The sportsbook operator has made clear its intentions for further expansion in 2021. In addition to its Virginia launch, DraftKings has already added Michigan to its list of active states this year. It went live with its sportsbook and online casino app in the Great Lakes State last Friday.