Barstool, Bally’s, and GNOG Get Approval for Virginia Online Sportsbook Launch

  • Nine sports betting operators have gotten approval to launch in the state to date
  • Barstool could go live in the coming months, GNOG and Bally’s likely won’t launch for some time
  • Each operator has plans to expand its offering across numerous states in the near future
  • Online sports betting in the state went live on January 21 with FanDuel Sportsbook's launch
  • Bally’s and Golden Nugget are both vying for a casino license in Richmond, Virginia
one hand puts a stamp of approval on a document with two hands make a thumbs-up gesture
Bally’s Corporation, Barstool Sportsbook, and Golden Nugget Online Gaming have received approval for online sports betting licenses in Virginia. [Image:]

Three more operators to launch

Bally’s Corporation, Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG), and Penn National Gaming are the latest operators to obtain approval to launch an online sportsbook in Virginia.

nine operators now have online sports betting licenses in Virginia

Specifically, the Virginia Lottery on Monday awarded temporary operating permits to Penn Sports Interactive LLC on behalf of its Barstool Sportsbook, Bally’s Corporation, and Golden Nugget Online VA LLC. A total of nine operators now have online sports betting licenses in Virginia.

While Penn’s Barstool Sportsbook product might launch in the next couple of months, it appears that the other two companies might take their time before going live in Virginia. Barstool has a goal of going live with a sportsbook in a new state every three to five weeks, with its latest launch taking place last week in Illinois. GNOG expects to launch its Virginia sportsbook during the summer, while Bally’s has not provided a timeline.

Welcoming the good news

GNOG issued a statement on March 16 after receiving its Virginia online sports betting license. The operator now has market access in ten states. GNOG president Thomas Winter welcomed the news, saying: “We will be working hand in hand with the regulators over the next couple of months to complete all of the required and standard platform testing.”

In a press release published on the same day, Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corporation detailed how it will have a presence in 13 states once it completes its pending acquisitions. Speaking about its temporary permit in Virginia, Bally’s Corporation CEO and president George Papanier said: “This represents another step in our evolution to become the leading omnichannel gaming provider in the U.S.”

The casino company is in the process of buying sportsbook platform supplier Bet.Works in a deal worth $125m. The purchase will help with the launch of Bally Bets.

Barstool Sportsbook is currently live in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Penn National Gaming CEO Jay Snowden outlined in an earnings call that he believes Barstool-branded online sportsbooks will be live in as many as ten states by the end of 2021.

Sports betting to date in Virginia

The six operators that currently have online sportsbooks up and running in Virginia are BetRivers, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, William Hill, and WynnBET.

Sports betting became legal in Virginia in July 2020, with the Virginia Lottery subsequently reporting that it had received 25 sports betting license applications. Current legislation also allows for retail sports betting, but no land-based casinos are open in the state as of yet. Virginia’s first online sportsbook went live on January 21 after news of the FanDuel Sportsbook launch came out the night before.

According to recent estimates, sportsbooks in Virginia could handle up to $412m each year, yielding about $61m in tax revenue. A 15% tax rate is in place on adjusted gross revenue for sportsbooks. 97.5% of these funds will go to the state’s general fund, while the remaining 2.5% will aid problem gambling initiatives.

The most recent figures show that, for the 11 days in January that online sportsbooks were live in Virginia, betting handle in the state totaled $58.9m while sportsbook win was just under $3.6m.

A race for the final casino license

Commercial casinos are also coming to Virginia, with voters approving developments in four of the state’s cities last November. Each city has already secured a gaming partner for the launch. Richmond is the fifth city that is set to get a casino, but it has not yet appointed a gaming partner for the project or held a citywide vote on the matter.

Golden Nugget land-based casino company and Bally’s Corporation are both in the race

The Golden Nugget land-based casino company and Bally’s Corporation are both in the race for this last casino license available. Bally’s submitted plans to develop a $650m project, while Golden Nugget proposed a $400m development. A number of other casino companies are among the contenders for the remaining Virginia license.

Legislation is currently sitting on Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s desk. If passed, it would allow commercial casinos to operate online sportsbooks without requiring one of the 12 online-only sports betting licenses currently up for grabs. The governor is expected to put pen to paper on the measure.

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