Virginia may be a lot of things to a lot of people. But Virginia is for bettors? Not according to lawmakers. Not officially, anyway.
It’s a peculiar bit of legislation that nonetheless received unanimous support from VA lawmakers.
It also may not even really be needed.
But when it comes to the Virginia state slogan, legislators aren’t taking any chances. So they’ve unanimously voted to ban any Virginia sports betting and VA casino companies from using the “Virginia is for Bettors” advertising slogan.
“Virginia is for Lovers.” Officially, anyway, since it’s the commonwealth’s travel and tourism slogan. And though the slogan has been adapted and parodied all matter of ways over the years, Virginia lawmakers aren’t taking any chances.
A lawmaker’s gripe with ‘Virginia is for Bettors’
Virginia Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City, filed Senate Bill 96 after hearing a “Virginia is for Bettors” ad.
He said it annoyed him because “I just felt it was trespassing” on the official motto, which the commonwealth has used since 1969.
Now, sportsbook and casino companies could face a stiff fine if the House of Delegates and Gov. Glenn Youngkin ultimately approve the bill.
As the bill reads:
“Prohibits sports betting and casino gaming operators and their affiliates from using the name of Virginia or the Commonwealth in an advertisement in association with their products or services. A violation is subject to a civil penalty of up to $50,000.”
The Virginia Senate unanimously passed the bill this week, 40-0. As the Virginia Mercury noted, the bill hasn’t appeared to have drawn opposition from any gaming companies.
Do we really need to protect ‘Virginia is for Lovers’?
Norment apparently takes his state slogans seriously. So, when he flipped on his radio, he got irked. So, even though the bill may not be needed due to existing trademark protections, he filed the it anyway.
As he stated:
“Frankly, it annoyed me. We’ve spent a lifetime trying to market ‘Virginia is for Lovers.’ I just felt it was trespassing on it. … I would rather it was out there blatantly rather than requiring people to go and look at the federal code and the trademark and patent registrations.”
As the Virginia Mercury notes, this may seem an odd fight to pick. After all, there seems to be no opposition, from in or outside the gambling industry. Plus, the Virginia Tourism Corporation and non-government groups have registered or are trying to register the following variations (we don’t think Norment would approve of all of these):
- Virginia is for Ballers
- Craft Beer Lovers
- Film Lovers
- Wine Lovers
An earlier draft of Norment’s bill would’ve prohibited gaming companies from using the term “Virginia” at all. But fellow lawmakers understandably weren’t as interested in that version, especially after pushback from gaming operators.
Perhaps surprising, Norment voted in favor of legal sports betting in VA in 2020.
Still, his preference clearly lies with lovers instead of bettors.