Virginians Posted $265M In Bets During First Full Month Of Legal Sports Betting

Posted on April 1, 2021 - Last Updated on June 24, 2021

Sports bettors in Virginia wagered more than $265 million at licensed sportsbooks during February, the commonwealth’s first full month of legal wagering.

The Virginia Lottery released the sports betting figures on Thursday.

The quarter-billion-dollar month follows Virginia’s sports betting debut in January. During a seven-day stretch at the end of the month, four operators eventually came online. Those sportsbooks, including first-to-market FanDuel, accounted for a January handle of nearly $59 million.

February included a new operator, as well as a boost from betting on the NFL Super Bowl.

According to the VA Lottery, which regulates sports betting in Virginia, Super Bowl betting accounted for $19,559,701 (more than 7%) of the February handle.

VA sportsbooks

FanDuel (Jan. 24), DraftKings (Jan. 24), BetMGM (Jan. 27), and BetRivers (Jan. 27) launched in January. William Hill Virginia joined the mix on Feb. 3 and had nearly a full month to contribute to Virginia’s February numbers.

However, the VA Lottery doesn’t offer a breakdown of monthly betting by individual operators.

Collectively, the five sportsbooks took in $265,778,306 and paid out $253,539,526 to players in the form of winnings.

That created a “hold” of 4.6% ($12,238,780) for the VA sportsbooks.

The sports betting operators had a hold of 6.1% in January. The industry average is about 7.2%. That could easily be explained by Super Bowl losses or pending March Madness futures bets that have not been paid yet.

Sportsbooks’ bonuses and promotions in February

Virginia law imposes a 15% tax on sports betting revenue. However, the commonwealth taxes the adjusted gross receipts (AGR) instead of the gross gaming revenue (GGR).

AGR is determined by subtracting total winnings and authorized expenses (primarily the value of player bonuses and other customer-acquisition promos) from total wagers.

The AGR for February totaled $3,235,612 in losses. That is about as much as sportsbooks reported as losses in January.

Here’s a breakdown for Virginia’s first two months of sports betting:

MonthHandleGGRHold %Bonuses and promosOther deductionsAGRTaxes
August 2021$182,418,252$17,967,4279.9%$6,868,639$2,410,724$8,688,064$1,378,539
July 2021$161,901,955$19,965,55612.3%$4,375,872$2,898,664$12,691,020$1,864,433
June 2021$234,943,435$22,006,2969.4%$4,983,544$2,125,855$14,896,898$2,273,995
May 2021$226,963,573$23,173,54910.2%$5,168,732$2,341,616$15,663,201$2,381,115
April 2021$236,432,523$19,442,3178.2%$5,529,294$2,532,886$11,380,137$1,652,147
March 2021$304,066,245$26,573,8778.7%$10,340,533$2,388,332$13,845,012$1,183,487
February 2021$265,778,306$12,238,7304.6%$13,187,560$2,282,972($3,231,752)$300,594
January 2021$58,896,564$3,586,0776.1%$6,343,077$478,612($3,235,612)$39,710
Total$1,671,400,854$144,953,8298.6%$56,797,250$17,459,661$70,696,968$11,074,021.80

Virginia sportsbooks will likely continue to spend heavily on new promos and bonuses to sign up new players. In February, that included a substantial marketing push around the Super Bowl, which is one of the biggest betting events of the year.

Virginia’s young marketplace is already competitive. However, with new VA sportsbooks on the way, operators will continue to use such promos to fight for market share.

Barstool, Bally’s, Golden Nugget on deck

Five sportsbooks were live in Virginia in February. A sixth, WynnBET, joined the fray on March 11 and will contribute to the next round of Virginia sports betting totals.

However, three other major players are poised to enter the market. The Virginia Lottery issued temporary permits to the following sportsbooks on March 15.

However, none of the operators has set a definitive launch date for Virginia.

Barstool, Bally’s, and Golden Nugget will be the seventh, eighth, and ninth sportsbooks in Virginia. However, the number should continue to grow.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northan recently signed HB 1847 and SB 1254. Those two bills cleaned up previous legislation and now ensure that sportsbook licenses for soon-to-debut Virginia casinos won’t count against Virginia’s cap of 12 online permits. That means Virginia could have 18 sportsbooks or possibly more in the future.

How Virginia sports betting taxes are used

Virginia law dictates that 97.5% of the taxed hold goes to the state’s General Fund.

The other 2.5% goes to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health for the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund.

Virginia’s take for February included:

  • Total tax: $300,593.91
  • General Fund: $$293,079.06
  • Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund: $7,514.85

Those figures should increase in future months as Virginia’s AGR settles closer to industry averages.

By market maturity, PlayVirginia projects the annual handle in Virginia to grow $5 billion in sports bets.

Photo by AP / Charlie Riedel
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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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