The Commonwealth of Virginia is in the midst of a slow-moving rollout of their legal sports betting platform. Thanks to some tangible revelations revealed over a short amount of time, the industry there has a lot to be excited about going forward. At present, Virginia has no retail gambling outlets which hasn’t seemed to be a problem so far – their mobile-only scene is doing just fine.
On Monday, the Virginia Lottery released betting figures from an 11-day period starting from their official January 21 launch-day and those numbers support the notion of their Commonwealth being a solid market for which bettors and providers can thrive. Just four operators contributed to the impressive 11-day sample-size with more en route in the coming weeks.
“Like its neighbor in Tennessee, Virginia’s online-only market had some advantages that helped fuel such a successful launch,” said Jessica Welman, analyst for PlayVirginia.com. “Debuting ahead of the NFL’s conference championship games and the Super Bowl ensured there would be heavy interest from bettors.”
The Virginia legal sports betting launch January 21 has so far been a success as evidenced by the $58.9 million handle in the first 11 days of online sports betting. It ranks as the second-highest monthly total in US history for any state in its first month of legal sports betting. And this came with just four operators taking bets over that short period of time.
The Virginia Lottery reported that out of the almost $60 million handle, bookmakers held about $3.6 million which equates to a 6.08% hold. An estimated $40,000 in the form of taxes for state and local coffers was siphoned from the profits.
Although revenues appear to be positive, the adjusted gross revenue was actually minus $3.2 million thanks to “the price of doing business”. About $6.34 million was given away in promotions and bonuses by the Commonwealth’s sportsbooks to go along with another $478,000 in “other” miscellaneous sportsbook expenses.
“The relatively small injection in tax dollars is eye-catching, but significant promotional expenses are a given in a market’s first few days,” said Dustin Gouker, analyst for PlayVirginia.com.
The Virginia Lottery isn’t worried about the negative net proceeds, commenting that: “anticipated that bonuses and promotional expenses tied to customer acquisition will decline considerably, increasing AGR and tax revenues to a more sustainable level.”
The Virginia sports betting scene opted for a staggered rollout of their legal sports betting industry. Additional sportsbooks are expected to be added soon to the two DFS behemoths, BetMGM and BetRivers. Caesars and William Hill are already in possession of a licences and are in the process of going live in the jurisdiction.
All-in-all, an estimated 25 providers have applied for sports betting licenses in Virginia. The Commonwealth has been slow to release the names of those providers, but we should find out soon, when permission is granted, and operators begin rollout in what has already been an impressive sports betting market.
Legislative Victories for the Commonwealth
The Virginia legislature has also made moves to shore up their sports betting platform before it reaches maturity. Governor Ralph Northam is poised to get a peek at two all-encompassing Bills that both houses of the Virginia legislature have been working on.
The two Bills are aimed to clarify some of the rules already in place in the Virginia sports betting scene. It also paves the way for betting on the Olympics if they indeed happen this summer. Under the new piece of legislation, 18 sports betting operator licenses will be available and the mobile licenses through the state’s 5 casinos won’t count against the limit of 12 mobile-only licenses.
The new legislation also gives sports teams such as the NFL’s Washington Football Team the opportunity to open their own legal sports betting facility if they choose to call Virginia their home.
Poised to Be a Player
There had been high hopes for the legal sports betting industry in Virginia and the Commonwealth is already delivering on those hopes.
“This was a great start for Virginia, but it’s important to remember that this is just the first few days of the market,” Jessica Welman said. “More operators will launch in Virginia and the market should quickly evolve. But in just a few days, it’s clear that Virginia is on its way to becoming one of just a handful of major US markets once it reaches maturity.”