Update April 28, 2021: Unibet is set to launch its sportsbook offering in Virginia today, one week after the state lottery provided the operator with a standalone mobile sports betting license.
A key state for expansion
Kindred Group has secured market access in Virginia that will allow it to launch an online sportsbook in the state under its Unibet brand.
The gambling group’s US subsidiary Unibet Interactive got approval for a standalone mobile sports betting license from the Virginia Lottery on Wednesday. Kindred tweeted out the news on Thursday:
Kindred Group sees Virginia as being a key state in its East Coast expansion plans, being one of the most populated states with legal online sports wagering activity up and running. Expectations are that Virginia’s online sports betting market will be worth more than $370m when it matures.
Virginia’s online sports betting market will be worth more than $370m
Kindred Group US senior vice president Manuel Stan welcomed the news that Unibet Interactive received one of the seven initially available standalone online sports betting permits in what was a “very competitive process”. He said: “We look forward to opening an office in Virginia, which will function as our third hub together with our offices in New York and New Jersey.”
In terms of a timeline for the online sportsbook launch, Stan said that the operator aims to go live shortly.
Kindred growing its US presence
Like many other gambling companies, Kindred is looking to become established in the US as more and more states enter the legal sports betting market.
The Unibet brand has already launched an online casino and sportsbook in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as an Indiana online sportsbook. It also has market access deals in another eight states and will continue looking at other potential opportunities in the country.
The US operations can utilize the experience that Kindred has in serving customers for many years in Europe and Australia.
The gambling group had a strong year in 2020. Total gross winnings revenue for the period was £1.13bn ($1.57bn), a 24% year-on-year increase. This led to a profit after tax of £165.2m ($229.2m), up from £56.6m ($78.5m). For its US operations, gross winnings revenue was £23.8m ($33m).
A developing market in Virginia
Online sports betting in Virginia launched on January 21, 2021. By the end of March, bettors had wagered a total of $628.7m. While the Virginia Lottery did not indicate the size of revenue generated from sportsbooks, the state earned about $1.5m during this period at a 15% tax rate on adjusted sportsbook revenue. Betting operators spent $30m promoting their brands during this time.
By the end of March, bettors had wagered a total of $628.7m.
FanDuel was the first operator to launch in Virginia, gaining a 53% market share for the reported period. DraftKings had 24%, followed by BetMGM with a 14% share. Other operators that are live include William Hill (in partnership with Caesars Virginia), BetRivers, and WynnBET. As well as Unibet Interactive recently getting the green light in Virginia, other operators that have approval to launch in the state include Penn Sports Interactive, Bally’s Corporation, and Golden Nugget Online.
After the passage of new legislation at the end of March, five more standalone mobile licenses have become available in Virginia.
The Virginia Lottery announced on Wednesday that it will open the application period for these five newly available permits from May 15 through May 31. The lottery does not guarantee that it will hand out all five licenses.