March is truly madness, with the NCAA Tournament bringing amplified attention on college sports betting across the country.
Sports betting laws differ state to state. And in Virginia, college athletics are at the epicenter. Virginia law prohibits betting on in-state teams. So that means no wagering on Virginia or VCU in the NCAA Tournament, no wagering on Virginia Tech or Liberty in the NIT, and no betting on Radford in the CBI.
Here’s a detailed look at Virginia’s current gambling laws when it comes to college sports.
You can’t bet on Virginia, VCU basketball during March Madness
The NCAA Tournament stands as one of the most popular sporting events for betting. But even with two straight days of nonstop hoops, Virginia residents can’t bet on their hometown teams. That means no wagering on the Virginia Cavaliers and VCU Rams in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Perhaps that comes as good news for those individuals who hoped to put money down on the Cavaliers to win the national championship. (Virginia, the 4-seed, fell to Furman for the program’s second first-round loss to a 13-seed in three tourneys since winning the title.)
That being said, all other programs are fair game. For example, Virginia residents could wager on Saturday’s second round, either for Furman to build a Cinderella run or to lose against No. 5 San Diego State.
Forget about prop betting on in-state college basketball, too
Prop betting of any type is not allowed on college sports. And this Virginia law applies to wagers all college programs, not just in-state teams.
That means no betting on a certain player’s over-under for points or rebounds, for example.
Virginia’s ban on prop betting also rules out live betting on any college event, since it falls under that category. So if you’re placing wagers on non-Virginia teams this month, make sure to get your bets in before tipoff.
Once the game starts, all bets are off.
You can’t wager on college sporting events in Virginia
Even if two non-Virginia teams face off within Virginia, residents can’t bet on the event.
For instance, if the NCAA decides to stage a few first- and second-round games in Virginia, VA sports betting operators would not be authorized to accept bets on those games, even if they feature out-of-state teams like Gonzaga or Arizona.
For a college bet to be classified as legal, the event must not take place in Virginia or feature any team from within the state.
Two bills in 2022 looked to change Virginia college betting ban
In 2022, lawmakers attempted to change Virginia’s stance on in-state school betting.
Sen. Monty Mason (D-Williamsburg) introduced Senate Bill 576. It passed in the Senate but ultimately died in the House General Laws Committee.
Earlier that same year, HB 1127 failed to pass through the House. HB1127, introduced by Del. Shuyler VanValkenberg, boasted the backing of household names, such as BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel.
However, this bill wouldn’t totally open the floodgates for college sports wagering. HB1127 would only allow betting on a game’s outcome. It would still hold the state’s ban on prop betting.
Why can’t VA residents bet on in-state teams?
At the end of the day, legislators said the ban is in place for students’ best interests. That’s one of the biggest arguments against the proposition not just in Virginia, but across the country.
“These are 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds,” David Bulova, D-Fairfax, told the Virginia Mercury.
Back in 2022, when officials shot down VanValkenburg’s HB 1127, Del. David Bulova said it was too early to revisit the topic, since the state legalized sports betting in 2020.
But he reinforced the idea that wagering on in-state programs could hurt the student-athletes.
“Sometimes these are going to happen illegally but this is looking out after our Virginia students,” he said. “This is making sure that we’re not going ahead and putting our seal of approval on that kind of activity.”
How do Virginia’s college sports betting laws compare to neighboring states?
Five states reside on Virginia’s border: Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.
Maryland, West Virginia and North Carolina have the same college sports betting laws. Betting on in-state teams is permitted, and so are prop bets on in-state college programs.
Tennessee allows wagers on its in-state schools but does not allow prop betting, unlike the others.
Meanwhile, Kentucky is the only neighboring state that doesn’t allow sports betting of any kind. In fact, Kentucky is one of just 10 states that has yet to legalize sports betting.
Tennessee only offers online sports betting. North Carolina, however, only offers the opposite: in-person wagering at its tribal casinos. That may change soon, though, as new legislation ramps up that would allow mobile sports betting. Both Maryland and West Virginia allow retail and online sports wagering.