Even Dozen: Hard Rock Launch Marks Latest VA Sports Betting Operator

Written By Dann Stupp on April 7, 2022 - Last Updated on July 27, 2023
Hard Rock launch

Virginia now has a dozen sports betting operators following a new sportsbook arrival with the Hard Rock launch.

Hard Rock VA became Virginia online sportsbook No. 12 with its recent launch.

The Virginia Lottery formally approved Hard Rock for a sports betting permit on March 31. It then made its launch here in Old Dominion shortly afterward.

The sportsbook is now operational in four US states.

Hard Rock launch is first of 2022

The Hard Rock launch marks the first sportsbook debut in Virginia in 2022.

In fact, it’s the first since Dec. 15, 2021, when PointsBet VA became the 11th Virginia sportsbook that the VA Lottery approved.

If you’re familiar with other Virginia sports betting apps, the Hard Rock app will feel quite familiar. With all of the top sports leagues and betting types, both novice and experienced sports bettors are sure to feel quite at home with Hard Rock Virginia.

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

However, despite being a well-known brand name in the hotel and casino space, Hard Rock has made only minimal strides in the sportsbook space.

In addition to Virginia, the sportsbook company is active in New Jersey (debuted in 2019), Iowa (2019) and Arizona (2022). It was also briefly active in Florida before court rulings forced it to shut down in late 2021.

However, Hard Rock does have at least one competitive advantage in Virginia. Over the next few years, at least four Virginia casinos will open their doors. The first, though, will be Hard Rock Casino and Resort Bristol.

But before the full $400 million resort opens, a scaled-down version called “Bristol Casino, future home of Hard Rock” will open on July 8. The temporary casino is also slated to feature an in-person retail Hard Rock sportsbook, which will obviously help promote its online counterpart to VA sports bettors.

A tough climb for newer Virginia sportsbooks

The Hard Rock launch has given Virginia its first new sportsbook in four months.

Overall, six VA sportsbooks (FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, BetRivers, Caesars and WynnBET) launched by March 11, 2021. Those books have accounted for more than 97% market share in Virginia.

The other books – Barstool, Unibet, Golden Nugget, Bally Bet and PointsBet – have been trying to survive off the remaining scraps.

It clearly paid to be first to market in Virginia.

Therefore, Hard Rock clearly has a tough road ahead in a market dominated by the early players.

But it won’t be alone in that fight. In addition to Hard Rock, Virginia regulators expect Betway VA and SI Sportsbook to also launch in Virginia in the next few months.

Photo by Shutterstock / Anna Hoychuk
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Dann Stupp

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

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