Virginia State Senator Files Bill To Lift Ban On In-State College Betting

Written By Phil West on January 16, 2024
Virginia's and Notre Dame's men's basketball teams play on a story about possible legislation in Virginia lifting the ban on in-sports college betting.

Whether you’re a graduate or just a fan of the Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Liberty Flames or James Madison Dukes, you can’t bet on them in the commonwealth. That stipulation was part of the legislation that paved the way for legal sports betting in Virginia.

Now, a state senator wants to change that.

Sen. Schuyler T. VanValkenburg, a Democrat representing District 16 in the Richmond metro area, has proposed Senate Bill 124, which would change existing state law to allow sports betting on in-state college games.

SB 124 would not lift restrictions against prop bets on college sports

Senate Bill 384, which legalized Virginia sports betting in 2020, prohibited both “betting on Virginia college sports and youth sports” and “proposition bets on all college sports.” It’s difficult to determine to what extent those restrictions have impacted sports betting in the commonwealth.

There is currently more than a dozen online sportsbooks in the state. And in November alone, Virginia sports bettors wagered more than $638 million, a 23% year-over-year increase.

While VanValkenburg’s bill would allow bettors to place wagers on college games, it would keep in place the restriction against prop bets on all college sports. The senator attempted similar legislation in 2022 when he was a House delegate.

North Carolina allows betting on in-state college games

Richmond is home to two minor-league teams: The Richmond Flying Squirrels, a Double-A baseball team, and the Richmond Kickers, part of United Soccer League’s League One.

VanValkenburg has also reportedly introduced legislation, Senate Bill 429, to take Richmond off the list of the five cities lawmakers approved to house casinos. Richmond voters have twice rejected a measure to bring a casino to the capital.

Of the five cities on the list, three have casinos in operation. Rivers Casino Portsmouth is nearing its first anniversary of operating in its permanent location. There are temporary casinos currently operating in Bristol and Danville. Their permanent casinos – Bristol’s Hard Rock Casino and Danville’s Caesars Virginia – remain on target for 2024 openings.

In Norfolk, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe has proposed to build the HeadWaters Resort and Casino on that city’s waterfront. The project has suffered several delays, but the tribe is working with city officials to get construction started this spring.

VanValkenburg’s legislation could be influenced by the commonwealth’s southern neighbor. North Carolina launched sports betting on Jan. 8. And unlike Virginia, there are no restrictions against betting on in-state college teams.

Photo by Michael Caterina/AP
Phil West Avatar
Written by
Phil West

Phil West is a longtime journalist based in Austin, Texas, whose bylines have appeared in The Daily Dot, Nautilus, Pro Soccer USA, Howler, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, and Austin Chronicle. He has also written two books about soccer.

View all posts by Phil West