BetMGM Sportsbook Launches in Virginia, BetRivers Going Live Thursday

  • BetMGM is the third operator to launch in Virginia, after receiving approval on Sunday
  • BetRivers is launching through a partnership with the upcoming Rivers Casino Portsmouth
  • The launch of online sports betting in Virginia last week caught people by surprise
  • FanDuel Sportsbook was the first to go live, followed by the DraftKings Sportsbook
  • FanDuel was able to launch first because of its partnership with the Washington Football Team
Welcome to Virginia road sign
BetMGM’s online sportsbook is now live in Virginia, while BetRivers plans to launch on Thursday, making them the third and fourth sports betting operations in action in the Commonwealth. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Two operators getting going

BetMGM Sportsbook has launched in Virginia, while Rush Street Interactive’s (RSI) BetRivers platform is about to go live. RSI tweeted about Thursday’s launch:

BetMGM is now the third operator to launch in the state after getting a temporary permit on Sunday to start accepting wagers. The operator, which is a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Entain Plc, now has online sportsbooks in ten states. As part of its Virginia offering, bettors will get access to the MGM Resorts M life Rewards program.

BetRivers will offer live streaming of certain sporting events to bettors

RSI’s BetRivers brand is launching through its partnership with the Rivers Casino Portsmouth. The 20-year deal will also see BetRivers operate the retail sportsbook at the $300m property when it eventually opens its doors. As well as the usual betting markets, BetRivers will offer live streaming of certain sporting events to bettors. With the launch in Virginia, RSI will have online gambling sites live in eight different states.

A surprise launch in Virginia

Many people were caught by surprise when the Virginia Lottery launched online sports betting on January 21. FanDuel was the first sportsbook to go live, doing so on opening day. The DraftKings Sportsbook was the next operator to start accepting online sports bets in the state, opening for business on Sunday afternoon.

The Virginia Lottery did not provide a clear timeline about when the online sportsbooks would be able to launch. The only indication of a launch date was the plan to have some sportsbooks up and running before the Super Bowl in February. Now with the launch of BetMGM and BetRivers, at least four online sportsbooks will be available to Virginia bettors in advance of the big game.

Virginia is set to be a significant state for sports betting as it has over 8.5 million residents, making it the 12th-most populated state in the US.

Battle for licenses

In all, 25 different companies submitted applications for online sports betting licenses in Virginia, though only a dozen mobile-only operators can get one. Delegate Mark Sickles submitted legislation a few weeks ago seeking to exclude the state’s five casinos from contributing to the 12-license cap. 

If the bill is successful, a total of 17 licenses would be available, in addition to those coming through partnerships with local sports franchises. July is the earliest that this legislation could go into effect if it is approved.

The FanDuel Sportsbook was able to launch first because of its partnership with the Washington Football Team. It was able to get “substantial and preferential treatment” because the NFL franchise is headquartered in Virginia.