Despite the many obstacles, challenges, and discussions that have taken place in the Virginia legislature it seems as though the state is making its mark by becoming the second to legalize sports betting in 2020, with the state of Washington being the first.
Both the Senate and House bills have been enacted into law and are set to take effect this July 1st, only a mere couple of months away. This was despite last minute recommendations that came straight from Governor Ralph Northam.
Plenty of people, including many in the Senate and House are now breathing a big sigh of relief thanks to the Governor enacting SB 384 and HB 896. It wasn’t that long ago that both bills looked as though they were in jeopardy and may not pass at all. This was due to the Governor’s last minute recommendations before approving the bills.
And, what exactly were the last minute recommendations?
Del. Mark Sickles, who is a sponsor of HB 896 said that the recommendations were “largely administrative”. The Governor was requesting that any sportsbook operator who was interested would need to conduct background checks for each principal of the company and incur that cost of $50,000.
This was on top of the licensing fees they would also need to pay, which Virginia’s are quite high in comparison to other states.
It also appears that up to 20 employees could in fact be classified as “principal” when examining the official definition in the state of Virginia.
Sen. Jeremy McPike and Sickles have gone on to state that the lottery would in fact cut down the amount of people considered principal, which would aid the entire process.
As for the other hold-up that kept the bills from breezing through, it was focused on the inclusion of NASCAR. Governor Northam made it clear that he wanted both of the state’s NASCAR tracks to be included in legalized sports betting opportunities.
Each of the bills included MLB, NFL, NHL, and the NBA as leagues that could obtain their sportsbook license, as well as any team in those leagues that relocated to Virginia. But, as it was made clear, NASCAR was left out.
Sickles has stated that NASCAR can in fact apply for a sports betting license or they could opt to partner with a licensed sportsbook operator that is based in the state. This would then have them under the umbrella as a marketing partner and would thereby by legal.
Even though the law will come into effect July 1, that doesn’t necessarily mean people will be able to start placing bets on that day. In fact, the Virginia Lottery Board has until September 15th to complete the regulations.
It would behoove Virginia, and any other state, to wrap up their administrative process and regulations before the football season begins since it’s the most popular time of the year for sports betting.
Despite the last minute changes, there are still some areas that many are left unhappy about. One area of discontent is the prohibition of betting on in-state colleges.
Northam has since clarified that thanks to the recommendations he made, in-state colleges could only be wagered on if they were included in collegiate tournaments. Although not idea, it’s still better than nothing.
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