Virginia Blues: BlueBet Withdraws Application For VA Sports Betting Permit

Written By Dann Stupp on September 7, 2021 - Last Updated on July 28, 2023

One potential Virginia online sportsbook is probably feeling a bit bluer after BlueBet was forced to scrap its initial plans in the commonwealth.

The Virginia Lottery recently deemed BlueBet Holdings ineligible for a permit.

As a result, on the advice of the VA Lottery, the Australian mobile wagering operator has withdrawn its sports betting application. The Virginia Lottery has refunded all of the company’s application fees.

However, this setback is another major blow for a company trying to make inroads in the US.

Virginia cites lack of US experience for BlueBet

BlueBet, a publicly-traded company in Australia, announced the Virginia news on Monday.

According to the short announcement, BlueBet simply didn’t have the needed US experience to receive a permit.

As officials stated:

“During the process the BlueBet Board received advice from the regulator that licenses would, at this stage, be granted to operators which had experience in other states and have equity interest owned by Minority individuals or Minority-owned businesses.”

BlueBet has neither. Consequently, the company’s stock price has already taken a hit because of its setback in the US.

A silver lining to the company’s Virginia blues is that BlueBet can re-apply for a permit in the future.

If it gains enough US experience, it could still become a future Virginia mobile sports betting operator.

BlueBet’s plans for DMV

BlueBet offers wagering products for 31 sports in Australia and some international markets. However, though US is a primary target, the company has made minimal inroads.

BlueBet recently secured a deal with Dubuque’s Q Casino and now looks to make its Iowa debut in early 2022. That could be a big step for the company considering Iowa has a top-10 market among US sports betting states.

According to company officials, some nearby states are also in BlueBet’s sights. They include Tennessee and Maryland, as well as Colorado. They’re also eying 10 other US states that could soon launch legal sports betting.

However, they haven’t determined tentative timetables for any of those markets.

BlueBet also recently came up short in its efforts to secure an Arizona sports betting license.

Competition for remaining VA sports betting permits

After some legislative clean-up, Virginia has room for more sportsbook operators.

Because the sportsbooks tied to future Virginia casinos no longer count against the cap of 12 mobile licenses, five remaining sports betting permits can be handed out.

According to the VA Lottery, 18 applicants are vying for those remaining spots.

Barstool Sportsbook recently became the eighth sportsbook operator to go live in Virginia. Two others, Bally’s Corporation and Golden Nugget Online Gaming VA, have received permits but haven’t yet launched and begun accepting wagers in Old Dominion.

SportsbookPermit approval dateLaunch date
Caesars (formerly William Hill)1/27/20212/2/2021
Golden Nugget3/15/202110/13/2021
Bally Bet3/15/202111/24/2021
Hard Rock3/31/20223/31/2022
Betway11/24/2021Q2 2022
SI Sportsbook11/25/2021Q2 2022

Despite the competitive market, Virginia sports betting handle has been steadily declining during the summer months. In fact, it recently hit an all-time low.

However, those figures should soon rebound with the return of the popular NFL and college football seasons, as well as the pending return of the NBA and NHL.

Photo by Dreamsite / Gonzalo Vidaña Diaz
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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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