VA Sportsbook Updates: Bally’s Virginia Launch Date; 2 Operators Fined

Written By Dann Stupp on October 27, 2021 - Last Updated on July 27, 2023
Bally's Virginia launch

A potential launch date for Bally’s Virginia was among the updates in the latest Virginia Lottery Board meeting.

Board members from the regulatory body met on Wednesday, Oct. 27, as part of a scheduled meeting.

Officials provided a number of updates about the legal gambling industry in Old Dominion, including Virginia sports betting, Virginia casinos, and the Virginia lottery.

And when it comes to VA online sportsbooks, an already-crowded marketplace could soon become even more competitive with the pending launch of the Bally’s Virginia sports betting app.

Bally’s Virginia to launch in November

Since its debut on Jan. 21, the Virginia sports betting market has ushered in nine current operators.

First-to-market FanDuel VA (45.4% market share), DraftKings VA (26.1%), and BetMGM VA (17.9%) currently dominate the Virginia sports betting market. Through September, the six other operators have combined to handle just 10.6% of the market.

That’s going to create a tough situation for Bally’s Corporation. Its Twin Rivers Management entity received approval for a sports betting permit on March 15. However, Bally’s, which also unsuccessfully vied for the Richmond casino project, had sat idle while other VA sportsbooks launched.

“We’re almost to the finish line with them,” said Gina M. Smith, the Virginia Lottery’s deputy director of gaming compliance. “We anticipate them launching in mid-November. We’re putting the final touches on that with them.”

However, Bally’s Virginia likely won’t be the only new operator to launch in the coming months.

VA Lottery prepping additional sportsbook permits

Back in May new legislation opened the door for the potential of five additional sports betting permits in Virginia.

According to Smith, additional operators have applied, and the Virginia Lottery expects to grant multiple permits to the hopefuls.

Smith, though, didn’t divulge the names of the five companies that are in the running.

As she said:

“We expect to award some type of permits in the upcoming months. Some operators want to go live before the end of the year. Some of them are (targeting) the first quarter of next year.”

With the addition of Bally’s Virginia, the commonwealth will have 10 total sportsbooks. Virginia will continue to rank eighth among all US states, just behind Indiana and Iowa, which both have 12.

Colorado (26), New Jersey (20), Michigan (14), and Pennsylvania (14) – market leaders in overall betting handle – are also leaders in the total number of operators.

Two VA sportsbooks pay fines for geo-location, RG issues

A pair of Virginia sportsbook operators have paid fines following their issues with geo-location and responsible gaming.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Virginia Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall divulged some details about the infractions.

Hall didn’t disclose which two of the current VA sportsbooks were at fault. However, their missteps, both of which were self-reported, resulted in fines paid to the Virginia Literary Fund and Virginia Council on Problem Gambling.

In one instance, a sportsbook left its geo-location system in “test mode.” That mistake allowed a bettor physically located outside of Virginia to place a bet with the sportsbook. That operator a signed consent agreement acknowledging the error and also paid a $150,000 fine that went to the Virginia Literary Fund.

In the other instance, a sportsbook allowed someone who had registered for the voluntarily self-exclusion list to log into the app and place a bet. It’s a major responsible gaming infraction. According to Hall, a “software glitch” contributed to the operator uploading an outdated exclusion list and not recognizing the self-excluded player’s account.

That operator also paid a $10,000 fine that went to the Literary Fund, and it made a $10,000 contribution to the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling.

Photo by Dreamstime / Elen33
Dann Stupp Avatar
Written by
Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

View all posts by Dann Stupp