Lawmakers Formally Ban ‘Virginia Is For Bettors’ Advertising Slogans

Written By Matt Boecker on April 13, 2022
Virginia isn't for lovers

Virginia lovers rejoice: The Old Dominion is still for you.

Bettors, on the other hand, can kick rocks. A recently passed bill now bans the use of “Virginia Is for Bettors” by gambling companies in advertising and marketing campaigns.

So, by law, Virginia isn’t for bettors.

Background on “Virginia Is for Lovers”

Richmond advertising executives created “Virginia Is For Lovers” in 1969 as a travel slogan, aimed at attracting tourists to the beautiful sights and experiences offered by the commonwealth.

Since then, its popularity has grown exponentially as the slogan has even earned awards. In 2009, “Virginia Is For Lovers” earned its induction into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in New York City.

Industry types celebrated a few other heavy hitters that year, including:

  • AOL Running Man
  • Budweiser Clydesdales
  • State Farm’s “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There”

This foursome of advertising juggernauts is comparable to the likes of Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lebron James and Kobe Bryant as the best of all time in their fields.

That’s why Virginia lawmakers might’ve been feeling a bit protective of the slogan.

Sen. Thomas Norment and Sen. John Cosgrove sponsored the bill, SB96, which prohibits gaming companies from employing the phrase “Virginia Is For Bettors” in any advertising or marketing campaigns.

The House and Senate backed the efforts before Gov. Glenn Youngkin officially signed it on Monday, April 11. Violators of the new law could face fines up to $50,000.

Why Virginia isn’t for gamblers

Norment was quite vocal in his push for this law to pass after hearing a radio ad that used the now-banned phrase.

As Norment said:

“Frankly, it annoyed me. We’ve spent a lifetime trying to market ‘Virginia Is for Lovers.’ I just felt it was trespassing on it. … I would rather it was out there blatantly rather than requiring people to go and look at the federal code and the trademark and patent registrations.”

DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, and Barstool Sportsbooks are among the biggest Virginia sportsbooks. None has commented on the new law.

Seemingly, Norment was the proverbial old man yelling at the clouds. In essence, he’s picking a fight with nobody showing strong feelings on the opposing side.

Since the VA sports betting market launched in January 2021, bettors have tallied $4 billion in wagers. Sportsbooks have reported more than $352 million in revenue. If a gaming operator wants to take the risk and run a “Virginia Is for Bettors” campaign, the $50,000 fine would seemingly be a proverbial drop in the bucket.

Photo by Shutter Stock / Sean Pavone
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