Barstool Sports, Bally’s and Golden Nugget Receive Sports Betting Permits for Virginia

Posted on March 16, 2021

The Virginia sports betting market will soon be a bit more crowded after Barstool Sportsbook, Bally’s, and Golden Nugget received permits this week.

The Virginia Lottery formally issued a temporary permit to Penn Sports Interactive, LLC, Barstool’s parent company, on Monday. It also issued permits to Bally’s Corporation and Golden Nugget Online VA, LLC.

They are the seventh, eighth, and ninth sportsbook operators to receive a permit to do business in Old Dominion.

As of Tuesday, officials from the well-known gaming companies hadn’t announced exact dates for their launch.

Barstool, Bally’s, Golden Nugget cleared to launch

The Virginia General Assembly legalized sports betting in 2020, and the market officially launched in January. FanDuel, in collaboration with the Washington Football Team, was first out of the gate. The industry heavyweight began accepting sports bets on Jan. 21.

In the following weeks, additional sportsbooks launched. In fact, with just 11 days of action in January, Virginia sports bettors tallied nearly $59 million in wagers. That bodes extremely well for the future, including February (exact figures will be released next week).

With Barstool, Bally’s and Golden Nugget soon to join the mix, here’s the current list of VA sportsbooks:

SportsbookPermit approval dateLaunch date
FanDuel1/20/20211/21/2021
DraftKings1/24/20211/24/2021
BetMGM1/24/20211/27/2021
BetRivers1/26/20211/27/2021
Caesars (formerly William Hill)1/27/20212/2/2021
WynnBET3/4/20213/11/2021
Unibet4/21/20214/28/2021
Barstool3/15/20218/10/2021
Bally's3/15/2021TBA
Golden Nugget3/15/2021TBA

Although the field is quickly crowding, even more sportsbooks are expected to launch soon, according to the VA Lottery. That means Barstool, Bally’s, and Golden Nugget, which are already a step behind the sportsbooks that launched in January and February, will face even more competition.

By market maturity, PlayVirginia expects the annual Virginia sports-betting handle to reach $5 billion in bets.

Buzz for Barstool Sportsbook

Few sportsbook operators attract the type of buzz and loyalty that Barstool Sportsbook does.

Behind “El Presidente,” polarizing Barstool founder Dave Portnoy, the media and sports-betting company has garnered a rabid fan base.

The Chernin Group acquired a majority stake (51%) of Barstool in 2016. Then, after Penn National Gaming purchased a 36% stake in 2020, Barstool made its sportsbook aspirations known.

Barstool Sportsbook launched in Pennsylvania in September 2020. It’s since added Michigan and Illinois. Virginia will be the fourth state where it operates.

With its loyal readership, Barstool Sportsbook has been able to excel with lower customer acquisition costs than most of its competitors. Still, once it’s live in VA, Barstool Sportsbook will likely have some attractive offers for new players.

Bally’s is all-in with Virginia

Bally’s, meanwhile, clearly has lofty expectations in Virginia. The company is also one of six that issued a proposal for a possible Richmond casino.

The $650 million proposal for Bally’s Richmond Casino Resort is the richest of all the suitors. In fact, Bally’s would give the City of Richmond a $100 million upfront payment. According to officials, the project would also create thousands of jobs and generate $5.3 billion in economic value generated over a 10-year period.

It’s another endeavor for Bally’s, which has been on an acquisition spree as it looks to become a true technology company.

Twin Rivers rebranded after acquiring the Bally’s brand name last year. The new Bally’s also recently acquired the company Bet.Works. It will provide the needed sports-betting platform so the company can launch “Bally’s Bets Sportsbook” later this year.

The company has also acquired 20 regional sports networks, a fantasy sports site, and a free-to-play games company.

Once Bally’s Bets launches, we’ll have the best sign-up bonuses and promotions here at PlayVirginia.

Golden Nugget touts community involvement

Golden Nugget is also a Richmond casino hopeful. The company issued a proposal for a $400 million Golden Nugget Richmond Hotel & Casino.

Golden Nugget also currently operates sportsbooks in New Jersey, Michigan, and Nevada, and it will be soon online in other states.

Once it’s live in Virginia, players can expect some attractive sign-up offers, including possible risk-free bets.

With one of the gambling world’s most recognizable names, Golden Nugget is sure to draw some curious sports bettors. However, the company doesn’t plan to go it alone. In the press release announcing its sports-betting permit, an executive touted its planned community involvement, as it did with the casino proposal.

Thomas Winter, the president of Golden Nugget Online Gaming, Inc., said he is committed to working with small businesses and minority-owned companies in the commonwealth:

“We thank the Virginia Lottery for the opportunity to expand our online business into the Commonwealth of Virginia. Together with our SWaM certified equity partner, Virginia Sports Technology Group, we are excited to announce that GNOG will not only be providing Virginians with a great mobile sportsbook, we will be proudly sharing our revenues with Virginia’s Historically Black Colleges & Universities. We will be working hand in hand with the regulators over the next couple of months to complete all of the required and standard platform testing so that we will be in a position to start taking bets this summer.”

Photo by Kelly Vandellen | Dreamstime.com
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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.

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