Virginia Sports Betting Suffers Summer Slump As July Handle Dips To Record Low

Posted on September 1, 2021

Sports bettors in Virginia produced the lowest total handle for a month after wagering just $161.9 million in July.

The Virginia Lottery released the latest figures for VA sportsbooks on Wednesday.

The record-low came in the sixth full month of legal and regulated sports betting in Virginia.

After bettors tallied nearly $235 million in bets in June, their total dipped 31.1% to $161,901,955 in July.

Such a summer slump isn’t unusual among US sports-betting states. Additionally, the lighter summer sports schedule will soon give way to the return of the popular NFL and NCAA college football seasons, which should provide a major boost.

July figures slump, but little reason to worry

Virginia sports betting launched on Jan. 21 with the debut of first-to-market FanDuel.

Five months later, seven VA sportsbooks were live and taking wagers. They contributed to the $161.9 million that was bet in July.

The eighth operator, Barstool Sportsbook, launched on Aug. 10 and will contribute to future monthly revenue totals in Old Dominion.

In addition to the dip in the overall betting handle, the pace of betting also slowed in July. During the 30 days of June, Virginia bettors averaged $7.8 million in daily wagers. During July, that daily betting figure ticked down to $5.2 million.

July featured the (one-year-delayed) opening week of the 2020 Summer Olympics, as well as the 2021 NBA Finals. However, those events just weren’t big needle-movers among VA sports bettors.

Still, key stakeholders aren’t likely to put too much worry into this summer slump. After all, the COVID-19 pandemic skewed 2020 data, but the lowest volume month for sports betting across the US in both 2018 and 2019 was in July.

Closer look at VA sports betting in July 2021

A closer look at Virginia’s July 2021 sports betting numbers shows the continued use of free bets and other promo dollars to lure in new customers.

During the month, sportsbooks registered gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $19,965,556, which fell 9.2% from $22 million in June.

Adjusted gross revenue (AGR) was $12,691,020, also down from June ($14.9 million). AGR is determined by deducting total winnings and authorized expenses (primarily the value of those player bonuses and other customer-acquisition promos) from total wagers.

When looking at just those bonuses and promos, the lifetime total spend in Virginia has reached nearly $50 million ($49,928,611).

In other words, VA sportsbooks continue to spend mightily as they fight for market share, which FanDuel currently dominates.

Here’s the full monthly breakdown of Virginia sports betting revenue:

MonthHandleGGRHold %Bonuses and promosOther deductionsAGRTaxes
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$1,488,982,602$126,986,4028.5%$49,928,611$15,048,937$62,008,904$9,695,482

July created $9,695,482 in state taxes, including $46,610 for problem gambling support.

The hold for July was 12.3% (a monthly record for VA), which helped partially offset some of the lower betting volume.

Where Virginia ranks among other states

The Virginia sports betting market wasn’t operational for all of January. However, even when using the official Jan. 21 kickoff date, Virginia has proven quite competitive when compared to other states’ sports-betting markets in 2021.

Virginia usually ranks in sixth to eighth place among all sports betting states in monthly handle. As the market matures, the commonwealth is slowly closing in on leaders such as New Jersey, Nevada, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. All of those markets got a much earlier start than Virginia did.

Additionally, with eight total sportsbooks, Virginia ranks eighth among all US states in total number of operators.

With at least a few other sportsbooks planning to launch in VA by year’s end, the Virginia sports betting market is well-positioned for the fall and winter sports seasons. And with the start of football, as well as the upcoming return of the NBA, NHL, and college basketball, VA sports bettors are likely to pick up the betting pace.

Photo by Dreamstime / Sherryvsmith
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Dann Stupp

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

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