After confirming an initial timeline on Tuesday, the Virginia Lottery still expects to issue its first Virginia sportsbook licenses in early 2021.
A definitive date hasn’t been designated, but VA Lottery officials said the process continues to roll along. That could mean a launch as soon as January, just in time for betting on the NFL Playoffs.
However, Virginia Lottery executives wouldn’t divulge one key piece of information during today’s sports-betting update: which companies have applied for licenses.
Still, though, there’s plenty of interest from hopeful sportsbook operators. Especially considering they could be operational within a few months.
“We anticipate that we are still looking at being in the position to issue the first operator permits for mobile sports betting in Virginia early next year,” VA Lottery Executive Director Kevin Hall said.
Early-2021 decision on Virginia sportsbook licenses
Although lottery officials didn’t reveal the list of interested sportsbook operators, it’s not a complete secret.
Some of the big names have already expressed interest in the legal Virginia sports betting market. In fact, before the VA Lottery published the official sportsbook regulations, would-be operators weighed in on the draft regulations and helped shape them.
So, which sportsbooks are still interested in carving out a piece of the Virginia market? According to Legal Sports Report, the list includes some sports-betting giants:
- DraftKings Sportsbook
- theScore Bet
Additionally, voters in all four Virginia cities with casino referendums officially approved the projects on Tuesday. The Virginia Lottery will give preference to those operators as they issue sportsbook licenses. Lawmakers capped the maximum number of licenses at 12 (with a minimum of four).
Those companies formally applied for a sportsbook license during a two-week period from Oct. 15-31.
What Virginia wants from sportsbooks
What exactly will the VA Lottery look for from potential sportsbook licensees?
Up first is a close look at their formal applications, as VA Lottery Deputy Director of Gaming Compliance Gina Smith said:
“I’m pleased to say there’s significant industry interest in Virginia. We are currently right now going through all of the applications to make sure they submitted all of the applications that we had requested, as well as all of the supporting documentation. After we complete that review, we’ll turn them over to have background investigations regarding their financial stability, as well as criminal background investigations. That will hep us determine who will be issued a permit in Virginia.”
Officials contracted Spectrum Gaming Group to do the vetting. Fingerprinting will also be run through the databases of the Virginia State Police and FBI, Hall said.
In addition to the financial and criminal considerations, Smith said the VA Lottery will consider additional factors:
- A history of operating with integrity and complying with the regulatory framework in other jurisdictions
- The amount of revenue the sportsbook expects to generate for Virginia
- A demonstrated ability to comply with the types of internal controls that the VA Lottery implements
- Any other relevant factors
The launch of Virginia sportsbooks can’t come soon enough for the commonwealth. After all, neighboring locales (West Virginia, Tennessee, and Washington, DC) currently have legal sports betting. Additionally, Maryland voters have set the groundwork for its own market, much like North Carolina recently did.