Virginia Sports Betting

The latest on Virginia sports betting, casino referendums and news

Virginia sports betting is officially underway! FanDuel Sportsbook became the first online sportsbook to welcome Virginians in January 2021. The industry continues to grow, adding new betting apps at a steady clip. The full list of operators to launch in VA are:

  • FanDuel Sportsbook
  • DraftKings Sportsbook
  • BetRivers
  • BetMGM Sportsbook
  • Caesars Sportsbook
  • Unibet
  • WynnBET
  • Barstool Sportsbook
  • Golden Nugget
  • Bally Bet

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Virginia is also working to have retail casinos open in four locations around the state. In November 2020, residents in Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth approved the installation of casino resorts inside their city limits. Richmond voters, though, narrowly struck down a 2021 ballot referendum and opted against a casino in the capital city.

So, things are definitely moving in Old Dominion with regard to gambling. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place to stay on top of new developments. PlayVirginia is the premier source for information about each launch and Virginia sports betting news.

Plus, we have some of the best sportsbook bonus offers you can find. So, read on, and take it all in about what’s going on in the commonwealth.

VA gambling update

UPDATED: Dec. 8, 2021

The Virginia sports betting market recently set two significant records. According to final numbers for October, VA sportsbooks shattered the record for monthly handle after bettors wagered $427.3 million in October, beating March’s previous record by $125 million.

The mammoth month also made Virginia the fastest US state to reach $2 billion in lifetime wagers.

Online sportsbooks in VA

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Virginia sports betting regulations

In April 2020, the Virginia General Assembly accepted Gov. Ralph Northam‘s amendments to HB896/SB384, thereby legalizing online sports betting in Virginia. The law took effect on July 1, and temporary regulations followed shortly thereafter. Those regulations were then subject to a public comment period. Final regulations were published on Sept. 15.

The bill states it is illegal to bet on youth sports and Virginia college sports. Additionally, in-game betting on all college sports is prohibited.

Other than that, though, sports bettors have a wide variety of sports and bet types at all of the betting apps.

In the end, Virginia could offer 18 total sports betting licenses, making the commonwealth a bettor-friendly market with plenty of options.

Which VA sports betting sites are live?

DraftKings Virginia Mobile Sports BettingThe first app to launch in Virginia was FanDuel Sportsbook. The site went live on Jan. 21, 2021. DraftKings Sportsbook opened up three days later. There are now 10 betting apps to choose from:

  • DraftKings 
  • Caesars 
  • FanDuel 
  • BetMGM 
  • WynnBET
  • Unibet 
  • BetRivers 
  • Barstool Sportsbook
  • Golden Nugget
  • Bally Bet

Other sportsbook hopefuls are in the queue and have already received approval. So, more launches could be coming in the next few months.

What to expect from VA sportsbooks

According to Virginia state law, lottery officials had to choose at least four applicants to operate as online-only sportsbooks. They can license as many as 12, and those licenses are in addition to the five casino licenses and the one sports franchise license.

When you decide you want to give online sportsbooks in Virginia a try, you can access them through either your phone or your computer. Every sportsbook worth its salt now has app versions for both Android and Apple users. They also maintain a browser version for the computer folks to use.

Regardless of how you choose to access your site of choice, the first thing that you’ll have to do is confirm your physical location inside the state of Virginia. Sportsbooks use sophisticated software to carry out this task, so let’s discuss how geolocation verification works.

How geolocation verification works and what it means

Both state and federal law prohibit placing sports bets across state lines. Believe it or not, this prohibition stretches all the way back to the Kennedy Administration in the early 1960s.

Authorities place the burden for confirming your location in Virginia squarely on the shoulders of each sportsbook operator. So, the betting sites in VA each use geolocation verification software to pinpoint the physical location of your device.

If you are using a smartphone or tablet, the app will likely use your onboard GPS to aid in this task. If you are using a computer, you will likely be required to download a program called GeoComply or something similar so that the sportsbook can confirm your location.

This requirement may seem a bit invasive and off-putting to you. However, each sportsbook has its licensure on the line with enforcing this requirement, so you’ll either comply with the request, or you won’t be allowed to wager.

Virginia sports betting features and options

Despite the fact that competition is extremely fierce between the different sportsbooks, each operator’s app will share many different attributes with every other sportsbook. Ironically, it makes more sense this way because it reduces the learning curve for customers who are making the switch.

So, almost every sportsbook will have this format:

  • Top banner(s): Tabs for the most popular sports, live betting, and odds boosts. You may also be able to see an option for promotions here.
  • Left column: A list of the sports onsite. At the very least, the most popular sports will be listed, and the menu will either be completely comprehensive or will have an option entitled “Sports A-Z” that will lead you to the full list.
  • Middle column or area: Featured wagers or live betting options will be in this region. If the game(s) you want to bet are quite popular options, such as the Super Bowl or some other league championship, you’re likely to find them here, and you won’t have to do any searching.
  • Right column: Almost always, the right side of your display will contain your betslip. It will auto-populate as you make your selections. If you plan on making a parlay wager or one of its variants, you’ll be able to do so here. The betslip is also where you can take advantage of any Cash Out options the sportsbook offers.

Now, there may have been a few terms in those descriptions that give you pause.

Live betting is a form of wagering that takes place on games already in progress. They are, by definition, proposition wagers, but they offer you the chance to increase your exposure and/or hedge against bets that are making you nervous. Sportsbook technology means that you could potentially see more than 100 bets for every single game, including options for the outcome of individual plays.

A cash-out option is a feature that may appear while a game is still happening and your bet hasn’t settled. The sportsbook will offer you a slightly reduced payout in exchange for closing the wager out early. The sportsbook wants to do so in order to save money; it is already anticipating that you are likely to win. However, you may want to take the reduced pay because it helps you to guard against any kind of late collapses or comebacks that could spoil your bet.

Only the most unknown professional sporting events will not be available somewhere in Virginia. Even esoteric options such as Irish hurling, futsal, and bandy are staples of online sports betting sites.

You will also be able to use a variety of methods for banking with the site. Credit cards, e-checks, e-wallets such as PayPal or Skrill, online bill pay, or prepaid cards are just some of the options that you will have. Some sportsbooks may even offer options to use cash for an online deposit.

How does Virginia sports betting compare to Tennessee?

As it happens, both Virginia and Tennessee legalized online sports betting at roughly the same time. There are some similarities to how each state has chosen to go about offering sports betting, though there are differences as well.

Similarities between TN and VA online sports betting

In both cases, the state lottery oversees sports betting. Both states will potentially have a lot of online sportsbooks operating in a mature market.

Unlike some other states with a lottery-run sports betting system, both Tennessee and Virginia have a relatively open and competitive system compared to a market such as Washington DC, which has a virtual lottery monopoly.

Other similarities include that bettors must be at least 21 years of age in both states. Also, both states have prohibited in-play betting on college sports. Both also do not allow betting on youth sports.

Both states require sportsbooks to use official league data when determining wagering results. Operators in Virginia pay 15% in taxes on sports betting revenue while the tax rate in Tennessee is 20%.

Differences between VA and TN sports betting

Tennessee bettors can make traditional pregame wagers on TN college teams. But that isn’t the case in Virginia, where operators are prohibited from taking wagers on games involving VA college teams such as the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.

Another difference is that while Tennessee sports betting is entirely online, Virginia will have brick-and-mortar sportsbooks eventually.

The new gambling expansion law in VA authorizes up to five casinos in different cities, each of which could potentially have its own retail sportsbook. Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth voters green-lit their casino-resort projects in 2020, and they’re now set to open in 2022 and 2023. Richmond voters, meanwhile, will decide the fate of a casino in the Virginia capital city during 2021 Election Day on Nov. 2.

VA gambling laws and regulations

Virginia’s foray into sports betting and casinos is nothing short of remarkable. To go from a state with very few gambling options at all to one with both casino resorts and online sports betting may be one of the most dramatic policy shifts in recent memory. Both laws were enacted into law on the same day, April 22, 2020, and became effective on July 1 of the same year.

SB384 – Sports betting

Virginia’s law to legalize sports betting is a comprehensive piece of legislation that should create one of the stronger sports betting markets in the country. The provisions for both online and retail sports betting mean that there will always be a place to wager on sports in Virginia.

One of the more striking aspects of the law is its unique authorization of parties who can apply for licensure. Since Virginia has no casinos yet, there were no natural gambling operators to identify, so it left room for some legislative creativity.

In the end, the bill specifies that there could be as many as 18 sports betting licenses active in Virginia. The breakdown of those licenses is as follows:

  • 4 – 12 online-only licenses: These licenses are to be awarded to applicants selected by the Virginia Lottery. They do not require the applicant to have any physical or business connection to the state. Officials must approve at least 4, but they have the ability to license up to 12. Virginia’s two NASCAR tracks are authorized to apply for one of these licenses, too.
  • Five licenses for casinos: Every casino property that becomes a reality in Virginia is empowered to apply for a license to offer sports betting. These properties will likely be the sites of the first retail sportsbooks in Virginia. Online sports betting, though, has had a headstart on the land-based versions.
  • One license for a sports franchise: This last provision is unique. The law authorizes the awarding of a sports betting license to any major sports franchise that relocates to Virginia. FanDuel partnered with the Washington Football Team for this license, giving it a first-mover advantage in the state.

All applicants must pay $250,000 for the privilege of applying for a license. In addition, they must pay $250,000 to receive the license, should they be approved.

Each license is good for three years. After that period, operators must pay $200,000 to renew.

Tracking the taxes on sports betting

Along with the fees, permit holders must pay 15% of their adjusted gross revenue as tax. Each sportsbook will have to pony up their tax bills every month.

However, if they show a net loss for a month, the bill authorizes the operators to carry over these losses. They can carry them over and deduct them from their tax liabilities for up to a year.

Virginia has a rather simplistic plan for disbursing the tax receipts that it receives. The only identified recipient of the newfound largesse is the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund, which is due to receive 2.5% of the accumulated funds.

The remaining 97.5% of tax revenue goes straight into Virginia’s general fund. So, unlike the introduction of casinos, Virginia lawmakers clearly mean for sports betting to infuse cash into the state’s coffers.

Prohibited or limited types of betting

As is the case with any sports betting state, there are a few types of betting that Virginia has declared to be unacceptable. None of these restrictions are unique to Virginia, per se, but they do need to be part of your thought process if you’re planning to place a wager in Old Dominion.

The first restriction is on what the law calls “youth sports.” It is prohibited for Virginia sportsbooks to offer wagering on these events, which are generally understood to mean sporting events in high school or lower grades/ages. Every other state understandably has similar prohibitions.

Virginia law also protects college sports inside its borders. Betting on Virginia college sports is also off-limits, which means that there will be no in-state betting on schools such as UVA or Virginia Tech University.

Virginia law partially protects collegiate athletes across the country, too. Proposition betting on college sports of any type is not allowed. Since live betting is a form of prop bet, that means that you will have to make all your college bets before the game begins.

Other restrictions

The only other caveat that Virginia’s sports betting rules have is regarding the use of league data. Virginia law allows for sports leagues to request that sportsbook operators use official league data for settling live bets.

However, the onus is on the leagues to provide a source for the league data too. They must be able to furnish a reliable feed at a reasonable price. Otherwise, the operators can use whatever source they want.

From a consumer point of view, the only effect that this rule may have (in tangible terms) is a slight reduction in the number of sportsbooks available. The added cost of paying for league data could potentially seal out some of the smaller providers. However, for the most part, this rule is a technicality for the operators.

Expected sports betting revenue and tax rates

Online sportsbook operators in Virginia will pay a 15% tax rate on gross revenues. They will also pay a $250,000 fee for a license lasting three years.

The Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission completed an impact assessment study in November 2019. The study estimates tax revenue from sports betting could eventually reach $55 million annually, once the market reaches maturity.

Virginia casinos and the host communities

Until the recent casino legislation passed, Virginia was one of the few states without a commercial or tribal casino. In order to garner support for casino gambling, the decision was made to allow casinos only in areas of the state with struggling economies.

Conditions for a community to be considered include:

  • An unemployment rate of at least 5% in 2018
  • A poverty rate of at least 20% in 2017
  • 20% or more decrease in population from 1990 to 2016

Since the sports betting bill allows for a sports betting license for each casino, it seems likely the casinos will all open a sportsbook. The process for launching casino gambling in VA is much longer than sports betting. There is a possibility in-person sports betting could be live by the end of 2021, but 2022 or 2023 is looking more likely.

Let’s take a closer look at the five cities meeting those requirements.

Bristol

Hard Rock Casino and Resort Bristol project developer Jim McGlothlin first announced plans for a Bristol casino in September 2018, well before the eventual legalization of casino gambling. Now, it’ll be a reality following a successful voter referendum in the city.

Hard Rock International has partnered with the City of Bristol to develop the $400 million resort.

Bristol is an ideal location. Besides sharing a border with neighboring Tennessee, it is also a short drive from several North Carolina cities. Additionally, Hard Rock can celebrate the area’s rich music history.

Danville

Danville city leaders teamed with Caesars Entertainment to bring a casino resort to the Schoolfield area of the city.

Caesars Casino Resort Danville will be built on the Dan River Mills industrial complex on the riverfront. The location was once the largest textile facility in the South but has been vacant since 2006.

Caesars designers promise to celebrate the site’s rich history. For the $400 million Danville resort, they plan to incorporate themes and aesthetics from Dan River Mills, including its familiar smokestacks, red bricks, and overall industrial design.

Norfolk

HeadWaters Resort & Casino will be a $500 million resort that’s the result of a partnership between the City of Norfolk and the Pamunkey Indian Tribe.

The Pamunkeys are Virginia’s first federally recognized tribe.

Their resort will be located on a 13.4-acre site along the Elizabeth River near the Harbor Park minor league baseball stadium.

The Norfolk casino will be located just a few minutes away from another one in the Hampton Roads area. Voters in nearby Portsmouth also approved a casino resort that should also open in late 2022 or early 2023.

Portsmouth

The City of Portsmouth and Rush Street Gaming announced their partnership in 2019.

The $300 million Rivers Portsmouth Casino Resort will be situated on a 50-acre site in the southeast-Virginia city. The City of Portsmouth owns the land via the Portsmouth Economic Development Authority, and officials believe the area is ripe for economic development.

Plans for the nearby Norfolk casino are likely one reason that Portsmouth voters overwhelmingly approved the project.

Richmond

The City of Richmond chose Urban One as its preferred casino partner. Urban One, which is teaming with Peninsula Pacific Entertainment/Colonial Downs on the project, beat out a proposal from The Cordish Cos. and four other groups.

Richmond voters will ultimately decide the date of the project on Election Day 2021.

If the voter referendum passes with a simple majority, Urban One will bring the $600 million One Casino + Resort to life.

Tracking the taxes on casino gambling

SB 36 calls for the casinos to be taxed between 18% and 30% on their adjusted gross receipts. The percentages escalate as the dollar amounts of the receipts increase.

Those taxes are collected and deposited in the newly-created Gaming Proceeds Fund. From the fund, the Virginia General Assembly pledges to disperse the money in the following measures:

  • 6% – 8% to each city in which the casinos reside
  • 1% from each tribal casino to the Virginia Indigenous People’s Trust Fund
  • 8% to the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund
  • 2% to the Family and Children’s Trust Fund

The rest of the money collected stays in the Gaming Proceeds Fund until the General Assembly can spend it on education.

Other aspects of the bill

SB 36 creates a Regional Improvements Commission to send additional money and support to the casino cities. The Commission is to be comprised of representatives from each town.

The law also authorized the Virginia Racing Commission to install up to an additional 600 historical horse racing machines. Considering that the VRC’s most recent annual report indicated nearly $1.6 billion in additional wagering due to HHRs, this inclusion is no surprise.

The road to Virginia sports betting launch

Virginia now has online sportsbooks and will also soon have retail sportsbooks. It will be a haven for those inside the state and nearby who would like to place a bet. However, it’s important to understand how the commonwealth went from a state with limited gaming options to one on the cusp of full-service sports betting (and casinos, for that matter). For now, sports betting remains an online-only endeavor, but retail sportsbooks should start launching in 2022.

May 2021

After a little more than three full months of online sports betting, Virginia was on pace to become the fastest state to reach $1 billion in total wagers. From a Jan. 21 launch through the end of April, the total had reached $865 million. The final May numbers will be available in late June. Assuming the month has even modest numbers, Virginia will be the quickest to post a 10-figure handle.

April 2021

Unibet formally launched in Virginia and brought the total number of operational sportsbooks in VA to seven. In addition to Unibet, the operators include FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill, BetMGM, BetRivers, and WynnBET. However, thanks to its headstart, FanDuel had accounted for more than half of all wagers in Virginia through the first few months of online sports betting.

January 2021

The Virginia Lottery announced sports betting should be live by Super Bowl. However, they wouldn’t announce which operators will operate in the state. It was only when FanDuel Sportsbook announced on social media that it would be launching in Virginia the following day that anyone even knew the market was ready to go. FanDuel got exclusivity in Virginia for at least a little while because it partnered with the Washington Football Team for a license, but days later, more competition entered the fray.

October 2020

The deadline for applications passed, and lottery officials were deluged with submissions. By the commission’s own statements, 25 operators submitted applications between Oct. 15 and the end of the month. Although the identities of the operators were officially secret, several big-name players in the market confirmed that they were part of that group.

September 2020

After a 35-day comment period on the rules ended in August, the Virginia Lottery finalized them for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The final draft appeared in mid-September 2020 and came with the announcement that operators could begin submitting applications for licenses in a month’s time.

July 2020

The Virginia Lottery published its preliminary sports betting rules for public comment. Several stakeholders, including multiple sportsbook operators and representatives from major sports leagues, weighed in.

April 2020

After lawmakers debated and incorporated his recommended amendments, Gov. Ralph Northam formally signed SB 384 into law.

November 2019

The commissioned study estimated that a mature sports betting market in Virginia could be worth $400 million in additional annual revenue. It placed the date of maturity at 2028, meaning that Virginia lawmakers could start seeing benefits in a very short time. The study was the product of independent firms The Innovation Group and Regulatory Management Counselors, who worked with the Senate’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to produce the report.

Delegate Mark D. Sickles (D – House District 43) introduced the first bill to allow sports betting in Virginia. HB 1638 would’ve allowed up to five sportsbooks to set up shop in the state, but the bill is quickly tabled in the House Rules Committee.

March 2019

The Virginia Senate produced SB 1126 to commission an independent report studying the effects of sports betting in other states. This bill mandated that legislators have the report in hand by December 2019, and its relatively easy passage clearly showed which way the wind was blowing in the Commonwealth.

May 2018

The US Supreme Court dismissed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and paved the way for sports betting on the state level. Conversations about sports betting began in many states, including Virginia.

Virginia Sports Betting FAQ

How old do I have to be to bet on sports in Virginia?

Virginia law prohibits sportsbooks from accepting wagers from anyone under the age of 21.

Can I bet from out of state?

No. Interstate betting is prohibited by both state and federal law.

Every time you log onto a VA betting site, you will be required to verify your location within Virginia. If you cannot do so, you will be denied full access to the site and will not be allowed to bet. Even if you are falsely being denied service, the operators have too much on the line to take a chance.

Can I bet on college sports in Virginia?

In a limited sense, yes. Colleges that are inside the state are not acceptable vehicles for your wagers. However, you can make pre-game bets on colleges outside of Virginia. Prop bets, including live betting, are not permitted for any college game.

Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?

Yes. Your sports betting winnings are subject to federal, state, and local taxes. They are considered income, and must be reported properly and accurately. Though the anonymous and cash-only nature of retail sportsbooks may lead you to believe that you can skimp on this aspect, online sports betting is completely trackable and creates an easy-to-follow digital trail for any curious auditors.

Additional information on VA sports betting

  • VA gambling bills: If you’d like to read the full texts of Virginia’s sports betting or casino gambling laws, you can read them here – SB 384 (sports betting) and SB 36 (casinos).
  • VA sports betting rules: If you’re wanting to dive deeper into the planned infrastructure for sports betting, you can read the complete rules here – Virginia Lottery Sports Betting Rules
  • VA sports betting public comments: If you’re curious about which groups commented about the proposed rules and what they said, check out this page – Rules Comment Log
  • Responsible gambling: If you or someone you love is struggling with problem gambling in Virginia, here is a helpful page with all the resources in the state available to you – Virginia Problem Gambling Services