Virginia Kicks Off NFL Season With Near-Record Sports Betting Totals

Posted on November 1, 2021 - Last Updated on November 2, 2021

The start of the 2021 NFL season produced the expected result for sportsbooks in Virginia, with huge increases in September compared to August. The first-ever September sports betting numbers for Virginia represented the largest month-over-month increase the state has seen yet.

VA residents and visitors put down over $293.8 million on sports bets in September of this year. It’s the second-largest such figure for the Old Dominion yet, and follows the national trend that continues to cast the NFL as US sports betting’s “cash cow.”

Virginia September sports betting numbers

After bettors handed over $182.4 million in August, it seems they were gathering their druthers to get serious about the same in September. September’s total represents a 61% increase on that figure and is just $10.2 million short of the top total of $304 million set in March.

The figure also amounts to a daily average of $9.4 million. That’s an increase of 62% from August. The more important numbers for VA sportsbooks, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) and hold percentage, look great for them as well.

In fact, the $10.3 million in VA AGR was up from August’s 8.6 million, too. The hold percentage, or the take of the money that sportsbooks kept due to bettors placing losing wagers, isn’t a new high at just 10.5% but is second to July’s 12.3% so far.

MonthHandleGGRHold %Bonuses and promosOther deductionsAGRTaxes
October 2021$427,320,306$30,160,3857.1%$15,805,261$4,569,424$9,785,700$1,746,204
September 2021$293,851,531$30,929,24310.5%$17,422,068$3,172,781$10,334,395$1,557,498
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$2,392,572,691$206,043,4578.6%$90,024,579$25,201,866$90,817,063$14,377,725

The gross gaming revenue from September, which came out to $30.9 million, is a new record for VA. Virginia sportsbooks haven’t been alone in experiencing record highs in September of this year. In fact, that’s been the case nearly across the board. A look at national numbers gives better context to Old Dominion’s place in the broader ecosystem.

Virginia is an attractive market for operators

To be clear, VA probably won’t be a top-five market when all the September 2021 dust settles. We won’t get the complete picture until later this month when Illinois, Nevada and Tennessee release their figures. In September, New Jersey bettors already set a lofty gold standard, staking over $1 billion to sports bets.

At the same time, VA’s action is nothing for operators to dismiss. It’s more than 14 times what bettors put down in Washington, DC, in the same month.

It ranks ahead of other markets with legal statewide online wagering, including:

  • Iowa
  • New Hampshire
  • West Virginia
  • Oregon
  • Wyoming

September is the industry’s first glimpse at the potential of the Virginia sports betting market. Legal wagering launched in late January, making this the first NFL season for VA sportsbooks. Yet, there are reasons to treat these numbers as preliminary.

The landscape will change moving forward. By next September, retail sportsbooks inside casinos around VA could be open, promising to at least shift some of the handle. Furthermore, sportsbooks in neighboring Maryland might be operational by that time, potentially diminishing some of the action in VA.

Despite those uncertainties, VA looks like it has a solid chance to settle in as a top-10 market for sports betting. That’s why operators are clamoring to enter the VA market, to try to wrangle some market share away from the sportsbook leaders. If this is how Virginians are going to bet on the NFL, it’s hard to blame them.

Photo by Jack Dempsey / AP
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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