Virginia Sportsbooks Collect $59 Million Handle in 11 Days Of January Launch

Posted on March 1, 2021 - Last Updated on June 24, 2021

Bettors wagered nearly $59 million at licensed sportsbooks during the first 11 days of legal sports betting in Virginia.

The Virginia Lottery, which oversees the commonwealth’s new sportsbook industry, released wagering figures for January on Monday.

VA sports bettors tallied $58,896,564 in wagers (the monthly “handle“) in just one-third of a month and with a limited number of operators. That figure extrapolates to more than $160 million for a full 30-day period.

Only neighboring Tennessee, which drew $131.4 million in bets in the 30 days after launching on Nov. 1, generated more than Virginia in its debut month. However, Virginia topped Tennessee’s per-day total.

That bodes well for future months in Virginia, including February, which will include Super Bowl betting in its monthly reporting figures.

VA sports betting handle and hold for January

Of the nearly $59 million wagered in January, sportsbooks paid out $55,310,487. That created a “hold” of 6.08% ($3,586,077) for the sportsbooks. This is a little lower than the industry average, but well within the norm.

FanDuel Sportsbook, the first operator in Virginia, launched on Jan. 21. FanDuel was first to market thanks to its partnership with the Virginia-headquartered Washington Football Team.

DraftKings Sportsbook was then online on Jan. 24, BetRivers followed on Jan. 26, and BetMGM launched on Jan. 27. William Hill wasn’t online until Feb. 3.

Additional sportsbooks are expected to launch soon. In fact, VA Lottery officials said they plan to issue additional permits “in the coming days.”

By market maturity, PlayVirginia expects Virginia’s sports-betting handle to grow $5 billion in annual bets.

Bonuses and promotions impacted the bottom line

State law dictates a 15% tax on sports betting revenue. However, Virginia taxes the adjusted gross receipts (AGR), not the gross gaming revenue (GGR).

AGR is defined as total wagers minus total winnings and other authorized expenses, namely the value of player bonuses and other customer-acquisition promotions. It is unclear if the federal excise tax of .25% is included in the expenses column.

Here is a look at the full breakdown of numbers:

MonthHandleGGRHold %Bonuses and promosOther deductionsAGRTaxes
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$1,671,400,854$144,953,8298.6%$56,797,250$17,459,661$70,696,968$11,074,021.80

Sportsbooks invest heavily in bonuses and promos for players, especially during a launch in a new market. In fact, three of four operators reported a negative AGR, and the combined AGR was a $3.2 million loss.

However, as VA Lottery officials noted, that number will “decline considerably … to a more sustainable level” as the market matures.

Where VA sports betting taxes go

Virginia lawmakers and other stakeholders sold sports betting as a way to raise revenue.

According to the legislation, 97.5% of the taxed hold is to be deposited in the state’s General Fund.

The other 2.5% is transferred to the Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund, which the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health administers.

Because of the negative AGR, Virginia’s take took a hit for January. The lottery reported only one sportsbook reported a taxable profit, which is reflected here::

More Virginia sportsbooks to launch

Two bills could soon expand the number of Virginia sportsbook operators.

Notably, the bills would clarify that mobile sports betting licenses for soon-to-launch Virginia casinos won’t count against the cap of 12 mobile-only licenses.

BetRivers is partnered with the Portsmouth casino, and William Hill Virginia teamed with the Danville casino.

Additionally, for the 10 remaining only-online licenses, VA lawmakers would give “substantial and preferred consideration” to sportsbook operators with minority participation.

Photo by AP / Chris Szagola
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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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